Football: Spurs seeking a helping of class

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon. . . . . . . . .1

Tottenham Hotspur. . . . .1

EARLY DAYS, but Tottenham's rebuilding after the loss of Gascoigne, Stewart and Lineker seems to have such shallow footings that even the ex-hod carrier, Vinny Jones, and his Wimbledon mates can now force them into an unseemly scramble for points.

Admittedly, Spurs were superior in the second half at Selhurst Park yesterday, but the measure of their decline was their inability to match Wimbledon's familiar robust, but largely uninventive, enthusiasm with the more esoteric qualities for which for so long they were known. Neither the quality nor the solidarity Paul Stewart used to give are there any more. The question is whether they can be developed in time to save their Premier League status. Wimbledon, you can always believe, can survive on blood and guts, not all of it their own.

No goalkeeper should ever expect John Fashanu to hold back on a 50-50 ball and when Ian Walker and the striker went for the same one that Hans Segers had lofted upfield, Walker knew the likely consequence. He seemed to have the ball within reach when Fashanu's boot met his right leg. The ball ran loose to Steve Cotterill, who quickly centred and Terry Gibson had no trouble in scoring. In the meantime Walker had clamped Fashanu to the ground, so a penalty might have been given anyway.

Not unexpectedly Walker had the worst of the collision and had to abandon the match, but with Erik Thorstvedt in reserve his absence seemed less threatening than the withdrawal of Gordon Durie at half-time. But two minutes into the second half his 18- year-old replacement, Nick Barmby, met Teddy Sheringham's cross close in and his header was too powerful for Segers, who nevertheless got a hand on top of the ball but rolled it over the line.

Once Vinny Samways had linked up with the promising Barmby in the Spurs attack, many more scoring possibilities arose, but Wimbledon clung to their gains - notably when Samways lobbed Segers and Alan McLeary had to clear off the line.

Wimbledon: Segers; Barton, Joseph, Jones, McLeary, Fitzgerald, Gibson (McAllister, 79), Earle, Fashanu, Cotterill, Clarke (Holdsworth, 68). Substitute not used: Sullivan (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur: Walker (Thorstvedt, 44); Edinburgh, Austin, Samways, Mabbutt, Ruddock, Sedgley, Durie (Barmby, h/t), Nayim, Sheringham, Allen. Substitute not used: Howells.

Referee: A Gunn (South Chailey).

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