Football / FA Cup: Tottenham void of magical side

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The Independent Online
Peterborough United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Tottenham Hotspur. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

THERE were going to be questions, lots of them, for Tottenham's manager Osvaldo Ardiles. The club's directors would ask them with frowns on their faces and the reporters would come by later.

When Jason Dozzell headed an equaliser in the 86th minute, the burden of explanation was lifted from Ardiles and relief prompted a tongue-in-cheek reference to the magic of the FA Cup.

Magic? The only conclusion to be reached after a passionless first half in which Tottenham's feathers were never ruffled, was that the majority of Peterborough's players were not in possession of the vital fact that they were engaged in a cup tie.

Never mind technical and tactical considerations. If you are coming from where Peterborough are, the priority is plenty of the disrespectful spirit that has resulted in some sensational reverses. This was not apparent in Peterborough's play until they were aggressively addressed during the interval by their manager, Chris Turner. 'I told them that if they weren't prepared to have a go at Spurs there was no point in being out there,' he said. 'We were a disgrace. In the first half we weren't at the races. I don't think we even won a corner. For a team at home in the Cup it wasn't good enough.' Turner also admitted to selecting the wrong team.

The introduction of Dominic Iorfa (as somebody put it, I or fa been on at the start) helped to change things dramatically. The Nigerian international's directness unsettled Tottenham, who looked uncomfortable when asked to dig in.

At last Peterborough's supporters began to respond traditionally and a great cheer went up when Iorfa and Tony Adcock combined to make a chance that was driven in by Jason Brissett.

The debate over style, the short or the long pass, ignores a fundamental truth about football. It is a game of options. 'Look for the far man first,' the great Hungarian inside forward, Ferenc Puskas, has always preached.

Significantly, Tottenham's obsession with intricate movements troubles Ardiles. 'We aren't getting the balance right,' he said. Invariably a pass too many, making it easier for Peterborough to thwart attacks. Unquestionably this relates to the absence of Teddy Sheringham, whose predatory presence would encourage earlier delivery from midfield.

The outcome was that Tottenham found themselves at full stretch after failing to capitalise on periods of comfortable possession.

Not so long ago they might have thought it unthinkable to pull off Nick Barmby, but a debilitating leg condition has reduced his effectiveness, and eventually he was replaced by Sol Campbell. The substitution provided Tottenham with more purpose but all would have been lost but for Erik Thorstvedt's alert goalkeeping.

Ardiles, animated on the touchline, was begining to think about explanations when Darren Anderton set up a move that led to David Kerslake finding Dozzell's head. The relief was abundant.

Goals: Brissett (62) 1-0; Dozzell (85) 1-1.

Peterborough United (4-4-2): Barber; Carter, Welsh, Bradshaw (Charlery, 35), McDonald; Brissett, Greenman, Kruszynski, Ebdon; Adcock, Philliskirk (Iorfa, 56). Substitute not used: Tyler (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Thorstvedt; Kerslake, Calderwood, Sedgley, Edinburgh; Anderton, Samways, Hazard, Caskey; Dozzell, Barmby (Campbell, 72). Substitutes not used: Austin, Walker (gk).

Referee: R Bigger (Croydon).

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