Football: Sheffield steel puts Spurs out of shape

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The Independent Online
Tottenham Hotspur. . . .1

Rosenthal 66

Sheffield Wednesday. . .3

Coleman 17, Bright 54, 62

Attendance: 23,078

TOTTENHAM Hotspur's new defender, Kevin Scott, added height to their fragile defence - and Ronny Rosenthal did what all debutant strikers dream of: score. But little good it did the north London side, who after this defeat slipped further down the table and are still desperately seeking that elusive first Premiership win of 1994.

Sheffield Wednesday comfortably parried everything that Spurs could throw at them and when matters looked like getting serious, Kevin Pressman demonstrated why Chris Woods, the England goalkeeper, has to sit it out on the Wednesday substitutes' bench these days.

Tottenham were menacing enough at the start, Nick Barmby weaving past two defenders but screwing his final shot inches the wrong side of the post. Vinny Samways had seen an audacious 40-yard lob miss the net after Pressman's rushed, kicked clearance and Rosenthal came within inches in the 13th minute when Pressman parried his vicious volley and then needed the help of Andy Pearce to prevent it rolling over his goal-line.

Ominously, Wednesday confidently absorbed these early flurries on their second successive Saturday in London and, after 17 minutes, took the lead. Darren Anderton's foul on Chris Bart-Williams wide on the left was dealt poetic justice when the Wednesday midfielder's free-kick flighted to the far post found Steve Coleman, the full-back, appearing from nowhere to stab his shot behind Ian Walker.

The game started to boil over when Roland Nilsson was booked for a foul on Anderton in the 28th minute. Eight minutes later, Samways followed him into the referee's notebook after an untypical but deservedly punished late tackle on Ryan Jones.

Wednesday were still in control but a bad back-pass by Carlton Palmer almost brought a self-inflicted wound. Anderton took the shooting opportunity to beat Pressman, but again a colleague - this time Des Walker - saved the day with another goal-line clearance.

It should have been all over bar the shouting within 15 minutes of the restart when Wednesday had built up a three-goal lead thanks to Mark Bright. His first, in the 54th minute was the result of a blunder by Ian Walker, who dropped Nilsson's cross when challenged by the forward. It was then a simple matter to stab the loose ball over the goal-line. Eight minutes later, Samways was dispossessed by Bart-Williams who found Bright in enough space to crack home his second goal and Wednesday's third.

But a late revival for Tottenham was sparked by Rosenthal's debut goal in the 60th minute when he met Anderton's corner from the right with the perfect header. It might not have too late but for some inspired goalkeeping by Pressman. Within the space of eight minutes, the goalkeeper denied Sedgley, twice, and Barmby.

While still missing the flair that is provided by Chris Waddle and John Sheridan, who are both injured, Wednesday have developed a shell of disciplined pragmatism that has put them on a roll of only two defeats in their last 26 games. Should Waddle and Sheridan be fit when Wednesday meet Manchester United in the Coca-Cola semi-finals, an upset may be on the cards.

Spurs, by contrast, still need drastic repair work if they are to pull out of the tailspin that has plunged them into the relegation zone.