Football: Spurs rout poor Palace

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Crystal Palace . . . .1

Tottenham Hotspur. . .3

NO BARMBY. No Durie. No matter. Spurs, showing superior appetite, intelligence and finishing, secured their first points of the year to pull away from the relegation zone in which Palace look worryingly stranded.

The visitors, without their injured strikers Nick Barmby and Gordon Durie, were simply too strong, particularly in a vibrant first-half display which brought two goals for Teddy Sheringham and a gift for Andy Gray on his return to Selhurst Park.

Palace were so toothless and clueless after a deceptively positive start that their disconsolate manager Steve Coppell apologised to the club's fans. 'It won't happen again,' he said. 'Our problem is that if we get a goal against us we fold.'

The collapse began in the 15th minute when Spurs scored from their first attack. Paul Allen sent the irrepressible Samways free down the left. His cross from the byline was low, hard and driven towards Sheringham at the far post. The goal was a formality.

Within 10 minutes, the lead had been doubled. Darren Anderton's corner from the left created confusion in the box, David Howells lifted the ball over the Palace guard and Gray had the simplest of close-range headers.

Five minutes later Sheringham struck his 13th of the season, heading Anderton's free-kick past Nigel Martyn.

The Eagles, who lost Geoff Thomas with an eye injury at half- time, raised their tempo slightly but clawed only a solitary goal back. Even that was scored by a Spurs player, Neil Ruddock turning the ball into his own net.

Crystal Palace: N Martyn; L Sinnott, R Shaw, C Coleman, E Young, A Thorn, S Osborn, J Thomas (G Ndah, 45 mins), C Armstrong, S Rodger, E McGoldrick. Subs not used: J Humphrey, A Woodman (gk). Manager: S Coppell.

Tottenham Hotspur: E Thorstvedt; D Austin, J Edinburgh, V Samways, G Mabbutt, N Ruddock, D Howells, A Gray (Van den Hauwe, 72 mins), D Anderton, T Sheringham, P Allen. Subs not used: A Turner, I Walker (gk). First team coach: D Livermore.

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow).

Goals: Sheringham (0-1, 14 mins); Gray (0-2 25 mins); Sheringham (0-3, 30 mins); Ruddock og (1-3, 53 mins).