Deadlock in derby mirrors the Chelsea boardroom

Football: Chelsea 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0
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The Independent Online

Chelsea 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0

If the second half of this game is anything to go by, then clearly clubs playing for the third time in eight days ought to considering halving the admission fee.

Then again, Chelsea provided so much entertainment off the field last week that perhaps they felt justified in taking every penny.

Given that this was a local derby, where avoiding defeat is paramount, the majority of the 31,059 inside Stamford Bridge were probably not heartbroken by the result or the performance. But to the neutral, the rubbish that was put out after half-time reeked with negativity.

Both sides had chances in the first period, the best of them falling to Chelsea's Eddie Newton after 10 minutes, but having been put clean through by Dennis Wise he shot against the bar when he should have done better.

Spurs stirred themselves and Chelsea had Dmitri Kharin to thank for three fine saves, first diving at the feet of Ronny Rosenthal and then, at full stretch, denying Chris Armstrong twice. All the openings were created by Ruel Fox's right-wing cunning, and at half -time a goal seemed imminent.

The second half began with the farcical sight of Newton and his team- mate Dan Petrescu frantically trying to barge through the crowd of stewards, ball-boys and other hangers-on as the referee, Steve Lodge, clearly with a train back to Barnsley to catch, was blowing his whistle to re-start the game.

Nothing whatsoever happened for the next 25 minutes, until Chelsea won a corner. Their centre-half, David Lee, took it and promptly booted it straight out. Tottenham then won a corner and Fox did the decent thing by passing it straight to Petrescu.

With 17 minutes to go Chelsea replaced a tired looking Nigel Spackman with a tired-looking Craig Burley, while their Scottish international striker John Spencer remained on the bench. "The bottom line is that if we'd been 1-0 down instead of 0-0 then I think it would have been a different substitution," Chelsea's manager, Glenn Hoddle, revealed later.

Petrescu and Teddy Sheringham wasted half-chances at either end and the ponderous Paul Furlong actually put the ball in the net two minutes from time, but he was penalised for a foul on Jason Dozzell. By that stage, though, a goal for either side would have been an injustice, and for Chelsea at least there was the satisfaction of tedious deadlock on the field mirroring the tedious deadlock in the boardroom.

Chelsea (3-5-2): Kharin; Duberry, Lee, Johnsen; Petrescu, Wise, Spackman (Burley, 73), Newton, Hall; Hughes, Furlong. Substitutes not used: Spencer, Hitchcock (gk).

Tottenham (4-4-2): Walker; Austin, Calderwood, Mabbutt, Campbell; Fox, Dozzell, Howells, Rosenthal (McMahon, 88); Sheringham, Armstrong. Substitutes not used: Edinburgh, Day (gk).

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).