Football: No dives, but a big splash

Wimbledon 1 Earle 61 Tottenham Hotspur 1 Ginola 72 Half-time: 0-0 Attendance:22,229
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The Independent Online
DAVID GINOLA rose high yesterday; not above imagined tackles but over the indifference of an FA Cup tie that for a long time was deep in negativity. His equalising goal to an almost equally dramatic one by Robbie Earle was the very height of class.

The equaliser adds a replay to what in the next few weeks will be a succession of matches between these teams. If all the rest are significantly better than yesterday's first half at Selhurst Park, and as eventful as the second, in which Ginola was the master craftsman rather than the alleged prima donna, the series will be fascinating.

The previous weekend's goalless draw was not even a rehearsal. Joe Kinnear and George Graham confessed that it had all been a bit of a balancing act, neither team wanting to show what they hoped they could achieve in the FA Cup as well as the Worthington Cup, in which they meet again this week. Balance was the operative word.

Kinnear had said it was odd that Ginola could be so perfectly balanced until he got into the penalty area, where he so often fell down, apparently untouched. Graham had accused the referee of not being brave enough to award penalties. Dermot Gallagher, yesterday's referee, was not to be envied, but at the end Graham said he was "superb", and Ginola had given the perfect answer to what Graham called "hype that was way over the top". Kinnear remarked: "I'm glad he's cleaned up his act. It's good for the game." He added that after the match the referee had asked Ginola for his shirt and was given it. "That summed it up," he said.

Kenny Cunningham resumed his duty as Ginola's shadow, but initially that was irrelevant since the strength and direct running of Jason Euell and Carl Leaburn had Spurs retreating in numbers. Justin Edinburgh and Sol Campbell needed to be at their most alert, but still Chris Perry, with a blazing shot, and Euell, with a header onto the stanchion, had Spurs shuddering.

Ginola roamed deep and broadly, and to some effect, but not where it mattered. Within the Wimbledon penalty area Spurs made little space for themselves. Movement was lacking and purposeful finishing usually absent. At least Leaburn enlivened what was a pedestrian first half with a strong header that Stephen Carr cleared off the line.

Chris Armstrong had never looked ready to take advantage of what few morsels came his way and exacerbated that fault early in the second half. Steffen Iversen had taken the ball from just outside his own penalty area into Wimbledon's, and fed it to Armstrong who allowed Sullivan to block a shot that was too late coming.

If something spectacular was needed it arrived just after the hour when, from Neal Ardley's centre, Leaburn headed back and Earle coolly executed an overhead kick. Good as that was, it proved a mere preamble to Ginola's memorable goal. Cunningham, who had been reliable all through, allowed Darren Anderton to rob him on halfway. Anderton found Carr on the right and Ginola begged for the return. He got it, dragged the ball down and, 20 yards out, moved left and right, changed pace and thundered in an equaliser. It was ironic that he did not even have to enter the penalty area to make his impact.

Spurs were fortunate not to spend the last five minutes with 10 men because Edinburgh, who had earlier been booked, tackled Euell from behind, cracking a bone in his ankle, but Mr Gallagher, perhaps relieved to have had a less difficult match than he had anticipated, simply issued a warning.