Football: Pressure rises for Francis

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Leeds United 1 Wallace 20 Attendance: 26,441
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The Independent Online
''Sit down, if you're going down,'' the taunting Leeds supporters sang. Few Tottenham fans bothered rising from their seats. Their reaction was understandable, as Rod Wallace had just scored what would be the only goal, amid a succession of goalscoring chances created against a seemingly spineless Tottenham side.

"It would be no exaggeration to say we should have been four-up by half- time," the Leeds manager, George Graham, said with conviction.

Midway through the second half and Tottenham had regained their voices and confidence in sufficient measure to reply in force with a chorus of: "Stand up, if you love Tottenham.'' Their team had finally come out fighting after the break and only a world-class save by Nigel Martyn from Sol Campbell kept Leeds ahead.

Unfortunately, for Tottenham and their manager Gerry Francis, Graham is assembling a side of steel at Leeds and bar that Campbell header, the remainder of their attacking efforts were largely hopeful, long-range, off-target shots.

Leeds coasted through the final 10 minutes, despite the late introduction of Darren Anderton for Tottenham, and Francis has now steered his side to a run of one win from nine games and they lie sixth from bottom of the Premiership.

Francis conceded: "We need results and we need wins. I am very disappointed. Our first-half performance was not good enough to say the least and Ian Walker kept us in the game with his saves."

He was right because Wallace could have scored a hat-trick before he eventually hit the back of the net in the 20th minute. A glaring miss from two yards out in the 16th minute betrayed the assurance he would display four minutes later when he ran on to a David Robertson through ball and stroked a right-foot shot past the helpless Walker.

The young Australian striker Harry Kewell and Bruno Ribeiro both could have scored twice before the break and the Leeds captain David Hopkin was denied by a super Walker save.

Martyn tipped a 35th-minute Andy Sinton shot over the bar following a rare Tottenham attack, but it took a Francis reshuffle to change the nature of the game going into the second half. He sent on striker Steffen Iversen for his first game since August, taking off Jose Dominguez, and switched to a back four with the full-back Stephen Carr replacing Gary Mabbutt.

The team and the crowd responded as Francis wanted and David Ginola came into the match with a series of penetrating runs which all too often ended in hopeless shooting. "He overdid it a bit," Francis said.

The best chance fell to Campbell from a 53rd-minute Ginola corner, but Martyn's dive and tip over the bar were outstanding. "He should be on the bench for every England game," Graham said, knowing that England coach Glenn Hoddle had been at the game.

It was to be Tottenham's highlight on another disappointing afternoon, summed up by a 90th-minute Ginola booking, for diving, before he trudged off.

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