Football: Durie tips the balance

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The Independent Online
Tottenham Hotspur. . .3

Brentford. . . . . . .1

WHITE HART LANE has witnessed many exhilarating cup ties over the years and, to the delight of the League Cup's new sponsors, Coca-Cola, this ding-dong derby was the real thing. Both enterprising teams contributed in equal measure to last night's second round, first leg - Spurs won simply because the strikers wearing white took their chances.

Gordon Durie and Teddy Sheringham confirmed the efficiency of their partnership, both finding the mark, while Durie also helped Kevin Watson, a teenaged midfielder from Hackney, to celebrate his debut with another. The Bees, roared on by 5,000 raucous fans, were well worth Gary Blissett's flashing header early in the second half which brought the scores level before Spurs took control.

Tottenham play Paul Gascoigne's Lazio in Rome tomorrow - minus Durie who has a knee injury - and the spirit of reunion started early as three former Spurs' employees retraced their roots last night. Phil Holder, the Brentford manager, was on the books at White Hart Lane the last time Spurs won the League Cup, in 1973, while two former Tottenham full-backs, Brian Statham and Chris Hughton, also returned.

It was a particularly physical encounter, Pat Van Den Hauwe setting the benchmark for late challenges after 11 minutes by upending the excellent Neil Smillie, who nearly did a somersault in the air before he fell to earth. 'My players have got whacks all over the place,' Holder said, 'and a few gashes. If it had been the other way round we would have been accused of coming here and kicking Spurs off the park.' Jason Cundy promptly followed Van Den Hauwe into John Martin's book for a bit of unnecessary centre-back-chat. Bookings apart, there was little to separate the two teams until five minutes before the break. Steve Sedgley lofted a 40-yard through ball for Sheringham to sprint clear and beat Ashley Bayes, the visitors' third-choice keeper.

Brentford tore into Spurs after half-time and were rewarded in the 55th minute when Blissett headed home Lee Luscombe's cross. Marcus Gayle and Blissett again had chances to put Holder's men clear but Spurs nowadays are made of sterner stuff. They hit back immediately and with an hour played, Durie broke clear and chipped the ball through for the unmarked Watson to head Spurs ahead.

Tottenham saved the best for last. Durie, superb throughout, chested the ball down 30 yards from goal. There seemed no danger until the Scottish international spun and hooked a dipping volley past the startled Bayes. 'You couldn't blame the keeper for not being ready,' Holder said. 'No one in the ground was ready. That's why Durie is worth pounds 2m.' And why Tottenham won.

Tottenham Hotspur: Walker; Tuttle, Van Den Hauwe, Watson (Edinburgh, 90), Cundy, Ruddock, Sedgley, Durie, Anderton (Minton, 75), Sheringham, Allen.

Brentford: Bayes; Statham, Hughton, Millen, Bates, Ratcliffe (Booker, h/t; Godfrey, 78), Luscombe, Kruszynski, Gayle, Blissett, Smillie.

Referee: J Martin (Alton, Hampshire).