Aston Villa. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
IN THE words of Ron Atkinson, the Aston Villa manager, Mark Bosnich 'stops penalties for fun'. Tottenham, like Tranmere before them, were less than amused by the Australian's latest two saves from the spot at White Hart Lane last night, but recovered to prise their first point of 1994 through a late reply by Ronny Rosenthal to Garry Parker's ninth-minute opener.
By denying first Darren Anderton and then Nick Barmby in a six- minute spell either side of half-time, Bosnich took his record to five penalty saves from five attempts in League and cup matches this season. Then there were the three during Sunday's shoot-out drama; at this rate, strikers may start claiming indirect free-kicks when they are upended in the Villa box.
Bosnich's remarkable record began with his very first touch of the campaign, when he parried a Birmingham spot-kick seconds after coming on as substitute in a Coca- Cola Cup derby. But for his agility that particular trail may have gone cold at St Andrew's rather than leading to a Wembley date with Manchester United, and he went on to repeat the feat at La Coruna (Uefa Cup) and Arsenal (Premiership).
Throw in the fact that Andy Gray fluffed a penalty for Spurs at Chelsea on Sunday, and a measure of trepidation on Anderton's part would have been understandable as he stepped up seconds before the interval with a chance to cancel out Parker's sweetly struck goal. Anderton combined power and placement, only for Bosnich to parry swooping to his right.
Neil Cox had conceded the award by cutting down Barmby - although the offence took place just outside the box - and gave Spurs a second chance by fouling Anderton six minutes after the break. Barmby sent the kick to the goalkeeper's left, but the outcome was identical.
Spurs, who had also seen Bosnich make a point-blank save from Jason Dozzell shortly after Villa's goal, commendably declined to become down-hearted. An improved second-half performance was rewarded 16 minutes from time when Rosenthal headed home from Barmby's deep cross, although even then the keeper put a hand on the ball.
A further spectacular save, which prevented Anderton from claiming a long-range winner, ensured that Villa remained unbeaten in eight visits to London this season. Spurs stay in 16th place, just four points clear of the relegation zone, having played more games than all below them bar Swindon. But at least they mustered some overdue urgency - and they will surely not encounter Bosnich's like again this season.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Austin, Mabbutt, Scott, Campbell; Anderton, Dozzell, Samways, Sedgley; Barmby, Rosenthal. Substitutes not used: Caskey, Gray, Day (gk).
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Bosnich; Cox (Beinlich, 55), Teale, McGrath, Barrett; Daley, Richardson, Parker, Froggatt; Saunders, Atkinson. Substitutes not used: Yorke, Spink (gk).
Referee: K Morton (Bury St Edmunds).Reuse content