Football: Sedgley's surprise spares Spurs

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The Independent Online
Tottenham Hotspur. . 2

Crystal Palace. . . .2

IN A heated, sometimes overheated north-south London derby, aerial might looked set to prevail. With 10 minutes to run Eric Young soared into the box and notched up Palace's second set-piece goal of the game.

As so often before, Tottenham Hotspur seemed to be spiralling down towards a second successive home defeat until up cropped Steve Sedgley, who had not previously scored in the League for his club, and very nearly did not yesterday either. Perhaps put off by Gordon Durie's wildly inaccurate bicycle effort, at first he miscued the cross from Dean Austin, making his debut, but the ball fell kindly and at the second time of asking Spurs were saved.

The new personal worst that Tottenham set at home last season was fresh in the memory a week ago, and even fresher after Coventry came to town in midweek and discovered that it was business as usual at White Hart Lane. The visit of Crystal Palace found the home side taking the not-so-obvious cure and playing as if on a carefree away day. While Palace essayed most of the heave- ho attacking options, Spurs went for their visitors on the break.

The early evidence was that they could profitably run at a Palace defence that likes the ball to come at it from above. When Vinny Samways knifed a canny pass through to Paul Allen on the byline, Palace came to a bemused standstill as if in expectation of an offside flag, but the law never intervened and Durie was left with a simple header. He probably would have missed it during his nadir last season, but without Gary Lineker to save the club's bacon he will have to do more scoring and this was a good way to open his account.

In accordance with the way they do things at White Hart Lane, it was not to last. But for one cross from Dean Gordon, which Chris Coleman was unable to meet with any impact, Palace had not looked the part against a side that, surprisingly, was as much heel-snapping terrior as preening cockerel.

But Palace are always capable of plucking something out of the skies, and this time it was in the improbable shape of Eddie McGoldrick, a jinky winger not renowned for his aerial abilities. Perhaps this was why he found himself unmarked when Gordon's free-kick arrived from the right. He rose like the proverbial freshwater fish and Palace were level five minutes after conceding a soft lead.

Such reverses often throw Tottenham but they were back behind the wheel when, not without a hint of skulduggery, Durie was awarded an indirect free-kick inside the box. Samways taunted the Palace wall so endlessly that, along with Andy Thorn, he entered the referee's book. The wall was in the way of Durie's eventual shot.

The other goalscorer was faring worse at the other end when Coleman was idiotically shunted over by Terry Fenwick in the box. McGoldrick saw Eric Thorstvedt dive left and save his second penalty in two games.

The second half could hardly have been expected to match the fury and flurry of the first, but the arrival off the bench of Andy Gray, who is not best of friends with his former employers, could be relied upon to provoke incident. Gray promptly over-reacted to a tackle from the otherwise quiet Geoff Thomas, in went Allen, and the Palace captain joined the others in the book.

It fell to two who were already there, Thorn and Neil Ruddock, to usher the match temperature up to new heights. In the aftermath of a legitimate tackle, the two players clashed and flailed arms. Having already booked them, the referee felt for his red card. Whether they deserved to go is debatable, and there was time to dwell on this as the quality of play declined despite Gray's evident hunger to do well, until the final dramatic blows were exchanged.

Tottenham Hotspur: E Thorstvedt; T Fenwick (D Austin, 64 min), J Edinburgh, S Sedgley, D Tuttle, N Ruddock, J Hendry (A Gray, 64 min), G Durie, V Samways, D Anderton, P Allen. Sub not used: C Day (gk). Manager: D Livermore.

Crystal Palace: N Martyn; J Humphrey, R Shaw, G Southgate, E Young, A Thorn, C Coleman, G Thomas, L Sinnott, D Gordon, E McGoldrick. Subs not used: S Osborn, A Barnes, P Heald (gk). Manager: S Coppell.

Referee: P Don (Middlesex).

Goals: Durie (1-0, 16 min), McGoldrick (1-1, 21 min), Young (1-2, 80 min), Sedgley (2-2, 89 min).

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