Football / FA Premiership: Anderton makes amends

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The Independent Online
Queen's Park Rangers. . .1

Ferdinand 2

Tottenham Hotspur . . . .1

Anderton 87

Attendance: 17,694

A GOAL only 75 seconds after the start and another almost as close to the end provided the quotation marks around a chapter of vivid, high-quality football at Loftus Road yesterday. This was one you definitely couldn't put down.

For Queen's Park Rangers, who led for so long, it was the second disappointing result in four days after losing at Swindon Town on Wednesday. They lie eighth in the table when they could so easily have been second, but they can't complain.

Tottenham, in the middle of a poor run of results, nevertheless fought their way back into the game with intelligence and flair, overcoming a series of setbacks along the way, a missed penalty being not the least of them.

Both sides were missing key players: Ray Wilkins for QPR, Teddy Sheringham and Gary Mabbutt for Tottenham, and much of the contest was a matter of which team could cope the better. As a spectacle, the game did not suffer; everywhere you looked there were young tyros attempting and largely succeeding in playing the sort of quick, measured, technically adroit football that most people in the game now seem to feel is the only route to national salvation.

For QPR, Simon Barker and Ian Holloway ran the midfield in Wilkins's absence with some lovely touches; Clive Wilson played a blinder at left- back; and a young left-winger called Michael Meaker produced one surging run after another. For Tottenham there were fine performances from Darren Caskey, Sol Campbell and Nick Barmby.

Some more familiar names still had a big say in the outcome - notably Les Ferdinand, who in spite of taking a painful knock on the knee after an hour gave another masterly demonstration of the centre-forward's art. It was Ferdinand's goal which got the game off to such an explosive start, a fizzing header from Holloway's corner which neither goalkeeper Erik Thorstvedt nor Caskey on the left post could stop.

Meaker would have made it 2-0 five minutes later but for misdirecting a lob from a promising position, and for a while the Tottenham defence continued to sway following their early knockdown. Gradually, though, they began to assert themselves under the subtle promptings of Vinny Samways and Micky Hazard. Then they lost David Howells to a knee injury, and then substitute Stephen Robinson had to be substituted, necessitating further positional changes.

But the chances started to come, none better than the 69th-minute penalty which followed a clumsy challenge on Caskey by Darren Peacock. In Sheringham's absence, the spot-kick duties fell to Darren Anderton, who managed to put the ball almost a yard wide of the right-hand post.

You have to feel sorry for a player who fouls up to that extent, so it was good to see Anderton redeem himself in the 87th minute when he finished off a move full of exquisite touches with a rifled shot low into the corner.