Tottenham Hotspur. .1
IT MAY have lacked some of the finesse of the Italian League, but Ipswich's fluent passing game and Tottenham's desire, if not ability, to play constructive football made for an enjoyable afternoon yesterday.
Better finishing would have given Ipswich, the score-draw specialists, their first home win of the season. Better support play might have given Teddy Sheringham a happier debut for his new club. He managed a few deft touches and knockdowns but failed to test Craig Forrest in the Ipswich goal.
With John Wark pushed forward into midfield, Ipswich gained a steady ascendancy. For Spurs Vinny Samways flickered intermittently without ever imposing himself upon proceedings.
Ian Walker was much the busier of the two keepers, just beating Gavin Johnson to Wark's pass, and diving to cut out Johnson's dangerous centre.
Tottenham's self-belief, fragile after their midweek rout by Leeds, seemed to be fraying by the minute. Then, just before the half- hour, Jason Cundy broke up an Ipswich move near the touchline and thumped the ball forward. Perhaps it was a shot, perhaps it was a clearance, extraordinarily it was a goal. From fully 40 yards the ball sailed over the stranded Forrest into the net.
Stung by the improbability of this strike, Ipswich, however, refused to lose their rhythm. They fashioned a succession of chances: Wark sent a free-kick just wide, Chris Kiwomya almost touched home Johnson's cross and Jason Dozzell twice went close.
At the other end Durie struggled to break through a tenacious defensive line. Phil Whelan and David Linighan were both booked for bringing down the histrionic Scot.
It seemed, however, that Spurs would reach half-time with their lead intact until, in the 45th minute, Wark, belying his years, surged through the Spurs offside trap to collect Geraint Williams' chipped pass and lob the ball over Ian Walker.
Ipswich resumed their domination after the restart although not before Forrest had been tested by Samways' low shot after a Sheringham flick-on.
The speed of thought shown by the Ipswich midfield and the speed of foot shown by the Ipswich forwards constantly embarrassed the visitors. Paul Goddard had two excellent chances blocked before giving way to Simon Milton. It was the Ipswich substitute who nearly set up Jason Dozzell with a winner. But the Ipswich forward's touch ran tantalisingly across the face of the goal.
Ipswich Town: Forrest; Whelan, Thompson, Stockwell, Wark, Linighan, Williams, Goddard (Milton, 80), Johnson, Dozzell, Kiwomya. Substitutes not used: Youds, Baker (gk).
Tottenham Hotspur: Walker; Austin, Edinburgh, Sedgley, Cundy, Ruddock, Anderton, Durie, Samways, Sheringham, Allen (Gray, 80). Substitutes not used: Fenwick, Thorstvedt (gk).
Referee: K Hackett (Sheffield).
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