Football / Coca-Cola Cup: Ardiles is dismayed by defence: Watford gain consolation

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Tottenham Hotspur. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Watford. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

(Tottenham win 8-6 on aggregate)

TOTTENHAM, sublime and ridiculous by turn, advanced as expected to the third round of the Coca-Cola Cup at White Hart Lane last night - but the manner of their progress quite dismayed their manager, Ossie Ardiles, whose position remains open to question.

A second goal by Watford's substitute, Lee Nogan, 15 minutes from time gave the visitors a victory they could hardly have expected after their 6-3 pummelling in the first leg.

For all the comfort of that margin, Spurs came to this match preoccupied - if not pressured - by the widespread speculation over the future of Ardiles following their indifferent recent form.

Earlier in the day, Alan Sugar, the Tottenham chairman, had insisted that there was no time limit for his manager to start producing the goods. 'I have not placed a time-bomb under Ossie,' he said.

But Ardiles accepted afterwards that such a performance hardly helped his cause. 'Our defending was embarrassing and amateurish,' he said. 'We are our own worst enemies.' He thanked God for the attacking quality of Jurgen Klinsman, who followed up his hat-trick at Vicarage Road by making one goal and scoring another.

A game which maintained the entertaining ebb and flow of that earlier encounter had ticked for 15 minutes before it exploded in Tottenham's face as the visitors' central defender, Colin Foster, headed home unhindered from Gary Porter's corner.

The home side were missing their Romanians, Ilie Dumitrescu and Gheorghe Popescu, on European Championship duty and lacked Teddy Sheringham, who was absent, apparently with a calf strain. After 22 minutes, they also lost Darren Anderton, who left the field clutching the top of his right leg and now looks likely to withdraw from the England squad.

Thankfully, there was still Klinsmann. On the half hour, the German's prescient backheel flick gave Nick Barmby a clear run as he cut in from the left and equalised with a shot under the keeper.

After Nogan had restored Watford's lead three minutes into the second half, tapping in the loose ball when Jamie Moralee's shot had been parried, Klinsmann took an even more direct hand.

This time Barmby returned the earlier compliment with an inviting pass after breaking down the right. Klinsmann needed one imperious touch to curl the ball inside Kevin Miller's left-hand post.

But the ridiculous element of Tottenham's game appeared once again as a speculative hooked cross from the left- hand byline by Tommy Mooney cleared the entire home defence and presented Nogan with the simple, if surprising task, of chesting the ball over the line for the winner.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-3-3): Walker; Austin, Mabbutt, Campbell, Kerslake; Howells, Dazzell, Anderton (Hill, 22); Barmby, Klinsmann, Rosenthal. Substitutes not used: Scott, Thorstvedt (gk).

Watford (4-4-2): Miller; Lavin, Foster, Holdsworth, Bazeley (Nogan, 8); Hessenthaler, Johnson, Ramage, Porter; Moralee, Mooney. Substitutes not used: Page, Digweed (gk).

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).

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