Football / FA Cup: Barmby engineers Dons' destruction

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The Independent Online
Tottenham Hotspur. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Wimbledon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

ANYONE watching Wimbledon on Ceefax would have been deceived by the near equality of the scoreline. The Dons were outpassed, outclassed and shown out of the FA Cup yesterday by a Spurs side exuding commitment and confidence.

Gary Lineker's bugbears won their battle with the Spurs stewards to keep their ghetto-blaster vibrating in the dressing-room, but when the match started, all you could hear was the sound of cockerels crowing. Spurs, as fluid as the Dons were forceful, were untouchable in the first half, particularly through their two attacking prodigies.

Darren Anderton and Nick Barmby, who joined up with, respectively, England's Under-21 and Under-19 parties last night, will doubtless be summoned by Graham Taylor one day. Their application of innate gifts was a delight to witness at White Hart Lane: the rangy Anderton scored the first and created the others while it is hard to believe the barrel-chested Barmby is only 18, such was the maturity of his support play, shooting and intelligently placed goal.

Barmby is only 5ft 6in but he regularly outjumps six-footers through timing and lower-leg strength. His leaping was crucial to Spurs' first, after 25 minutes. It was a textbook far-post routine, only the participants were surprising: Neil Ruddock crossed from the right, Barmby nodded down and Anderton dived in bravely to clip the ball past Hans Segers, who had not been beaten for seven hours.

'I didn't start too well here,' Anderton said, 'but now I'm playing a bit better.' Some understatement. 'If you looked at our last 14 goals,' Doug Livermore, the Spurs' first-team coach, said, 'Darren has played a part in most of them.'

Anderton is growing in stature with every touch and his pounds 1.7m fee is beginning to be repaid. 'People are now understanding the value of Darren,' Terry Venables, the man who bought him, said.

Twice in the last three minutes of the first half he set up goals. First he swung over a corner to the near-post in a style so reminiscent of the visitors' set-piece proclivities that the Dons' Robbie Earle flicked it on. Teddy Sheringham's close-range header, his 16th Spurs goal of the season, was a formality.

Anderton engineered a third in stoppage time. Seizing upon Brian McAllister's ill-directed clearance out on the right, he crossed for Barmby to stoop and power the ball past Segers with a rising header. Barmby had effectively sent Spurs through to the quarter-finals - a stage he may miss if ordered by England to go to the World Youth Championships in Australia.

At half-time, Joe Kinnear, the Dons manager, sensed the game was up. 'You can't give a team like Spurs a three-goal start,' he said. His team's task was not eased by the solidity of Ruddock and Gary Mabbutt, the Spurs' defensive pairing dominating John Fashanu and Dean Holdsworth.

Tottenham kept attacking, and could have doubled their tally in the second half through Anderton, Barmby and Vinny Samways. But such forays left chinks at the back. In the 64th minute Gerald Dobbs pulled one back with a neat lob after good work by Fashanu and Holdsworth. In the last minute, Gary Elkins slipped in a fine cross from the left and Steve Cotterill scored at the second attempt.

A comeback of sorts, but Spurs' superiority was never in doubt.

Tottenham Hotspur: Thorstvedt; Austin, Edinburgh, Samways, Mabbutt, Ruddock, Howells, Barmby, Anderton, Sheringham, Allen. Substitutes not used: Gray, Van Den Hauwe.

Wimbledon: Segers; Joseph (Cotterill, h/t), Elkins, Jones, Scales, McAllister, Ardley, Earle, Fashanu, Holdsworth, Dobbs. Substitute not used: Fitzgerald.

Referee: M Bodenham (Looe).

(Photograph omitted)