Football: Profiting from the wide boys

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The Independent Online
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Sunderland 0

So Spurs got their two "new" faces after all, even if they were not quite the players that they had in mind at the start of the week. Anyway, it is doubtful whether any new signing could have settled as quickly as Darren Anderton and Andy Sinton did on Saturday when they made a welcome return to the first team after lengthy injuries. What is more, they provided Spurs with exactly what they have been lacking - width.

Gerry Francis had been on another of his midweek bargain- hunting expeditions to Europe, principally aimed at securing the signature of Raymon Vega, the cultured Swiss international centre-back, and claimed that only Cagliari's reluctance to part with him at present prevented him doing so.

No one would dispute the central defence has been Tottenham's eternal weakness, well, at least since the demise of Mike England, but it is a lack of width which has been the most glaring problem in recent weeks.

Francis is pretty proud of the way Spurs have coped during their injury crisis - this was their fifth win in six games - but feel they have not received due credit. If Spurs are ever going to win the championship again - and Francis audibly gasped when a BBC radio reporter asked if it was possible this season - they are going to need a manager like Francis who knows how to grind out results.

Sunderland's lack of resources were cruelly exposed here and not helped any by Paul Stewart's second sending-off in consecutive months in north London after 55 minutes. Sinton was first into his stride, scoring a memorable first goal for the club. Curious how he has rediscovered his zest for the game since coming under his old QPR manager's wing again.

Quite how Teddy Sheringham and Kevin Ball, of Sunderland, failed to convert point blank chances only they will know. Presumably, Sheringham still had Georgia on his mind. He even hit a post from a penalty, though he soon atoned by sweeping home Anderton's cross.

Goal: Sinton (12) 1-0; Sheringham (81).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Carr, Calderwood, Campbell, Wilson; Anderton (Rosenthal, 88), Nielsen, Howells, Sinton; Sheringham, Armstrong. Subsitutes not used: Edinburgh, Baardsen, Nethercott, Allen.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Perez; Hall (Rae, 75), Scott, Melville, Kubicki; Kelly, Ball, Bracewell, Gray (Smith, 83); Stewart, Bridges (Russell, 66). Substitutes not used: Agnew, Preece.

Referee: M D Reed (West Midlands).

Bookings: Tottenham: Sinton, Carr, Armstrong. Sunderland: Hall, Scott, Bridges. Sending-off: Stewart.

Man of the match: Sinton.

Attendance: 31,867.