Spurs have final say

Friday 30 November 2001

From the Independent

"Spurs are on their way to Cardiff" does not have quite the ring of the Chas 'n' Dave original, but ring true it may in the new year. It resounded round an under-populated Craven Cottage from the throats of the visiting supporters last night and, within minutes of Simon Davies scoring the winning goal of a scrappy Worthington Cup tie, there was further reason for song: the former Tottenham heroes, Clive Allen and Paul Walsh, pulled out a favourable quarter-final draw, at home to Bolton Wanderers in under a fortnight's time.

Even before that, the teams will meet at White Hart Lane in the Premiership on Monday. Spurs ought to be capable of winning both games, against unpredictable opposition, though Bolton unlike Fulham last night will presumably pay them the respect of putting out their strongest team. As is usual in this competition, Fulham took the liberty of leaving out players, putting five first-team regulars on the substitutes' bench, with Sylvain Legwinski not even getting that far. As a result, they lacked the cohesion and quality of passing evident recently in an impressive run of League performances. "Sunday's match against Leeds is more important for me," Jean Tigana, the Fulham manager, said in justifying his team selection.

"It is up to managers of other clubs to decide what they do, but the changes we made were forced upon us," said Tottenham's Glenn Hoddle, who had sent out the strongest team at his disposal: Dean Richards was ineligible, while Les Ferdinand and Gustavo Poyet had joined Mauricio Taricco on the injured list. That combination of circumstances allowed Goran Bunjevcevic and Sergei Rebrov to return after nine weeks' absence each.

It was an eventful comeback for Rebrov, who opened the scoring after 15 minutes despite having spent most of that time having a cut head stitched. In only the second minute, he took a knock creating a chance for Oyvind Leonhardsen and had to retreat to the dressing-room. Barely five minutes after returning, he was perfectly positioned to beat Maik Taylor as Teddy Sheringham set him up with a typically deft flick.

Fulham's opportunities were less clear-cut, and fewer than Tigana would have liked, stemming in the main from Ledley King's unexpected susceptibility to passes played in behind him. Barry Hayles, clean through, and Luis Boa Morte failed to take advantage, but, right at the end of the first half, Bunjevcevic and Chris Perry lost Hayles, who stole in between them to slide home a header from Steve Finnan's cross.

Emboldened by the goal, Fulham moved forward with greater conviction after the interval and after an hour even deigned to send on another of the "A" team in Steed Malbranque. The passing improved, reaching a level closer to Tigana's high standards, though the finishing remained below them, Boa Morte shooting wastefully high after being played in by Malbranque.

Although Tottenham had lost much of their zing, Sheringham led one dangerous counter-attack, forcing Taylor into a fine save with his jab from close in as Rebrov crossed low from the right. Then, four minutes from the end, Darren Anderton's free-kick was neatly headed back by King for Davies to hit a low drive past Taylor for the winning goal.

The Guardian

Glenn Hoddle celebrated a 'romantic night' at Craven Cottage as Tottenham secured a quarter-final place in the Worthington Cup with a 2-1 win against Fulham.

Simon Davies, with an 86th-minute winner, and Sergei Rebrov made the most of rare starting roles.

Their goals set up a home draw against Bolton in the last eight.

However, Tottenham could face an FA inquiry after supporters threw missiles in the direction of Fulham winger Luis Boa Morte as he attempted to take a corner.

Boa Morte was not hit, but he handed a missile to the officials and Tottenham, who are already under investigation following Sol Campbell's stormy return to White Hart Lane, may yet face an FA charge.

Hoddle nevertheless had fonder memories of the evening as Tottenham gained a measure of revenge for being knocked out of the competition at the same stage two years ago by Fulham.

Reflecting on the only remaining Premiership venue with standing supporters, he said: "Fulham have to look to the future with their new stadium from next season, but this was a romantic night.

"I haven't been here for so long and it's such a quaint stadium, there's something special and endearing about it.

"It's lucky to come and get a win. The club were here a couple of years ago in the same competition and got spanked 3-1 so it's nice to reverse that result."

Rebrov, who put Spurs ahead, had previously started just two games this season, with his only other goal coming against Tranmere in the previous round, while Davies has also been on the fringes.

"Sergei was excellent. He looked sharp in all his all-round play, not just with his goal," added Hoddle.

"Simon is going to play a big part. He's got a big future. He's growing as a player and learning off the experienced players and has popped up with the winner."

The Times

This, the last of the Worthington Cup fourth-round ties, seemed destined to go on for as long as possible. Quite how bated the breath is when it comes to the draw for the quarter-finals of this competition is open to debate, but it looked set to be delayed until a free kick in the 86th minute saw Darren Anderton's cross into the area fall kindly to Simon Davies, who volleyed home from 18 yards.

Tottenham Hotspur began and ended looking deadly. It does not matter now that they were second best for most of the time in between and their reward is a home tie against Bolton Wanderers in the quarter-finals. The dress rehearsal comes on Monday night, when the sides meet at White Hart Lane in the FA Barclaycard Premiership.

Two seasons ago, Tottenham travelled to Craven Cottage as holders. Fulham were then the first division underdogs, a club with ambitions to enter the Premiership but considered small fry all the same. They knocked Tottenham out with style in a tie that marked the start of real belief that they could handle life at the top.

Two years on, Fulham's starting line-up - Louis Saha and Steed Malbranque started on the bench - revealed that Jean Tigana, the manager, no longer believes the club has anything to prove. He said that Sunday's Premiership game against Leeds United was more important. Injuries meant that Glenn Hoddle, the Tottenham manager, did not have the option to rotate and instead was forced to field the best team from his list of fit players.

What he did not want to witness inside the opening few minutes was Sergei Rebrov, only in the side because of an injury to Les Ferdinand, being led off the pitch with a head wound. Fulham decided that with Spurs down to ten men, while Rebrov was stitched up, it might be an idea to be ambitious. Bjarne Goldbaek played a ball over the top to Barry Hayles, who attempted an audacious lob. It failed, but Fulham enjoy being indulgent when given the opportunity.

They were punished when Rebrov, back on the field with a sore head, scored with a stunning half-volley in the fifteenth minute. The Ukraine forward looked pleased, and slightly unwell, as he celebrated the goal, set up by Teddy Sheringham. It was only his third start this season and he was determined to make it count. His alertness startled the Fulham defence and he put in a wondrous cross that Steve Finnan misread, leaving Christian Ziege free, but he shot narrowly wide.

It took Fulham a while to readjust, but they began to unsettle Spurs. Goldbaek, in particular, caused them problems, judging the pace of Luis Boa Morte to perfection, and the final action of the first half saw them equalise. Finnan crossed and for once the Spurs defence failed to react, leaving Hayles free to glance the ball past Neil Sullivan.

It was as if Spurs, determined to remain calm and relaxed, had rocked themselves to sleep. Stunned a little by the equaliser, they were muted after the interval. Lee Clark should have taken advantage in the 53rd minute, but he scuffed his shot while under no pressure. "It was a romantic night, it's such a quaint stadium, so endearing," Hoddle said. Fulham had hoped that it would prove intimidating - roll on their new stadium.