Football: Spurs break all the laws of science

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Tottenham Hotspur. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

AS A physics problem it might have been fascinating; as a football match it was not. What happens when a wholly moveable object meets a highly resistable force? At Hillsborough yesterday there was enough evidence to fill a science textbook but the answer was not particularly edifying.

Tottenham's defence provided the first part of the equation, Wednesday's attack the second, and the result was enough errors in the Spurs penalty area to fascinate only connoisseurs of a cock-up. Sheffield, at a conservative estimate, could have got 10 goals, instead they were hanging on to one at the end.

The principal profligate was Mark Bright, who squandered at least six chances. The pitch played its part but such was the accomplishment the Wednesday striker was showing in failing to score, by the end you wondered whether he practised in training.

The 77th-minute provided a cameo of the match. Chris Bart- Williams made a 35-yard run that took him past two defenders and then waited until just the right moment to release Bright beyond the back four. The ball was weighted perfectly and Bright's touch was assured but somehow he managed to dribble the ball into the hands of Tottenham's Erik Thorstvedt.

Thirty seconds later he headed on into Bart-Williams' path and he managed to defy belief by hoisting the ball 10 feet over the bar from a range of three yards.

'It was virtually impossible,' Trevor Francis, Wednesday's manager, said. 'We missed a lot of chances but the pitch was a mess. It made it a nail-biting last five minutes.' It was a conclusion hardly anyone would have predicted after the first third of the match. Wednesday were on top and even if their attack was not functioning properly, there was always the prospect of opportunities provided by Spurs' mistakes.

In the fifth minute Steve Sedgley intercepted a through ball by Ryan Jones and then seemed to lose all use of his feet. Bright nipped the ball away from him and with reassuring confidence swept past Thorstvedt and passed the ball into the net.

It was a grand illusion. Wednesday did not press home their advantage and Bright looked more like a man who had not found the net this season instead of one who had got his fifth goal in as many matches.

'The pitch did not suit us,' Ossie Ardiles, the Spurs manager, said, 'and we had to adopt a long-ball game that is alien to us. I was pleased with the commitment and willingness to fight shown by my players.' He did not say that it took 70 minutes before Tottenham had enough gumption to try the big boot but he was probably more preoccupied trying to keep his players from getting into trouble at the end.

'I went on to the pitch to stop my players saying something to the referee they might regret,' he said. 'There were one or two decisions they did not like.' For example: who should have been marking whom?

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Nilsson, Walker, Palmer, Worthington; Bart-Williams (Jemson, 81), Hyde, Jones, Sinton (Pearce, 81); Bright, Watson. Substitute not used: Woods (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-5-1): Thorstvedt; Kerslake, Calderwood, Sedgley, Edinburgh; Anderton, Dozzell, Hazard, Samways, Caskey; Barmby (Campbell, 69). Substitutes not used: Austin, Walker (gk).

Referee: K Burge (Tonypandy).

(Photograph omitted)