Football: Show-stealer Beardsley illuminates a vibrant production

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The Independent Online
Tottenham Hotspur. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Newcastle United . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

IT DOES make you begin to wonder what all the fuss has been about. After the wringing of hands and obituary notices, the game seems to be undergoing a renaissance, while managing England is not the advertised poisoned chalice, but a 'lovely job' to have.

A match of dazzling excitement and audacious skill encouraged talk afterwards that was equally uplifting. Kevin Keegan said again, as he will keep on saying while disbelievers remain, that leading the country is not for him. And who can argue when the choice between a lonely office at the Football Association and the privilege of watching Peter Beardsley in training every day is no choice at all.

When Beardsley turns it on like this we can not allow England's past manager to slip quietly out of the limelight. Graham Taylor's rejection of the magical one was nothing short of a 'crime', Keegan said. 'It's been four years wasted because someone of Peter's ability has so much to give to the youngsters. My chairman was reluctant to spend pounds 1.5m on a 32-year-old but I convinced him it was an investment for the whole club. It was like dipping your hand into a firework box and pulling out one with no label. Something was going to happen but I didn't know exactly what.'

Beardsley's show-stealer 41 seconds from the end of as vibrant a production as you could wish to see was merely the final piece of tinsel to wrap around an attractive package. There was much else to

admire, the exuberance of Lee Clarke, the precocity of Andy Cole and the radar vision of a Tottenham midfield that through the confusion of hurtling bodies can still locate a white shirt yards away.

With technique enhancing pace rather than being submerged by it, the domestic game made a convincing case for itself, supporting the Keegan view that a transformation is abroad. 'There is a massive change in how clubs are playing and the biggest beneficiary will be the next England manager,' Keegan added.

Of course these two sides are in the vanguard of the transformation. For a time after Nick Barmby's

penalty had cancelled out Beardsley's opening volley, Spurs' first victory in nine attempts in the League seemed imminent. Keegan wants his defenders to play and to construct but he was not happy when they over-indulged and only the lack of a genuine striker, which Ossie Ardiles will amend this week with the expected capture of Ronnie Rosenthal from Liverpool, averted a different outcome.

So it was that the honours fell to Beardsley. Collecting a quick free- kick - the moving ball was rightly ignored by the referee - he bore down on Colin Calderwood, delaying his move before disappearing inside three defenders with a bewildering shimmy to pound the netting, taking Newcastle up to third. Gripping stuff. Match of the Day billed Manchester United v Norwich as the best of the season so far. But those of us at White Hart Lane know different.

Goals: Beardsley (55) 0-1; Barmby pen (61) 1-1; Beardsley (90) 1-2.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Thorstvedt; Kerslake (Austin, 75), Calderwood, Sedgley, Edinburgh; Anderton, Hazard, Samways, Caskey; Barmby, Campbell (Dozzell, 61). Substitute not used: Walker (gk).

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Hooper; Watson, Venison, Howey, Elliott; Lee, Bracewell, Clark, Jeffrey; Cole, Beardsley. Substitutes not used: Kilcline, O'Brien, Srnicek (gk).

Referee: M Reed (Birmingham).