Football: Sheringham's service industry

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The Independent Online
Tottenham Hotspur. .4

Oldham Athletic. . .1

THIS fixture meant a great deal to Oldham Athletic and Teddy Sheringham. The Tottenham centre-forward was named in Graham Taylor's England squad last week and would not have wanted to muff his lines a couple of days later. Luckily for him, but not for the visitors who look almost certain to be relegated, he needed no prompting.

It was his 300th League appearance, and there probably will not have been too many better than this. He scored twice from the penalty spot to take his tally for Tottenham to 26 in an uninterrupted 42-match run, but what caught the eye was the unselfishness of his contribution to the comprehensive mauling inflicted on a tiring, uninspired Oldham in the second half.

Spurs' other scorers were Darren Anderton and the substitute, Andy Turner, who both received accurate service from the flank from Sheringham, showing that he can supply wingers as well as feed off them.

Sheringham first caught the eye as Tony Cascarino's striking partner at Millwall. Footballers, like anyone else, are judged by the company they keep, and it was only when Cascarino had gone off to fail at bigger clubs that Sheringham came to be seen as more than one half of a bully-boy double act. A year at Nottingham Forest did him no harm, and the service of Nick Barmby, Anderton and Tottenham's fitfully elegant midfield is rounding him off nicely.

Oldham's goal, the first of the match, came from Darren Beckford. It was his second for Oldham since his move from Norwich, who before Saturday had conceded the same amount of away goals - 40 - as Oldham, a total second only to Middlesbrough.

At an even more impecunious club Beckford may be finding his services more valued, but he is also discovering that one goal a game tends not to be good enough. Oldham are almost incapable of defending an advantage, or as Joe Royle put it afterwards 'We couldn't keep a clean sheet to save our lives.' With old boys like Earl Barrett, Dennis Irwin and Paul Warhurst all chasing medals at bigger clubs, it is hardly surprising.

If they get out of jail now, with a visit to Aston Villa among their last three fixtures, they will have to work a miracle as big as the one that would bring an old Tottenham favourite, Chris Waddle, back in an England shirt.

Goals: Beckford (25) 0-1; Sheringham pen (58) 1-1; Anderton (70) 2-1 Sheringham pen (82) 3-1; Turner (84) 4-1.

Tottenham Hotspur: Walker; Austin, Edinburgh, Samways (Turner, 74), Mabbutt, Ruddock, Sedgley, Barmby, Anderton, Sheringham, Allen. Substitutes not used: Nethercott, Dearden (gk).

Oldham Athletic: Gerrard; Halle, Pointon (Palmer, 74), Henry, Jobson, Fleming, Adams, Ritchie, Beckford, Milligan, Bernard. Substitutes not used: Redmond, Keeley (gk).

Referee: K Hackett (Sheffield).

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