Football: Sutton's finishing a torment for Spurs: Ardiles desperate for Sheringham

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The Independent Online
Tottenham Hotspur. . .1

Norwich City . . . . .3

TEDDY SHERINGHAM will be back to see the new year in with Tottenham where it matters most, helping to bring a finishing thrust to a team who continue to struggle without him. With two strikers fit and in form, Norwich City always held the upper hand yesterday and showed a bumper White Hart Lane crowd precisely what they were missing.

'A new year and hopefully a new life,' Ossie Ardiles said as he reflected on his growing problems, which Sheringham's return at home to Coventry on Saturday should help to relieve. His team have won only once in 12 League games and the Tottenham manager calls it 'a test of character, the biggest challenge of my managerial career'. Three points at West Ham today would be very welcome.

A different story from the rival camp, where Chris Sutton led the line with splendid fortitude and maturity. He scored twice and thereby laid claim to a pounds 1,000 goal bonus, the icing on his new three-and-a-half-year contract. His value rises with every game and the next multi- million-pound offer from his growing army of admirers cannot be far away.

Beside him Efan Ekoku was determined to make up for time lost through injury and together Norwich possessed a spearhead that made them dangerous every time the ball was in Tottenham territory.

Ian Crook, back after missing four games, ensured it was there as often as possible, his intuitive passing, quick and accurate, taking the pressure off his defenders and maintaining a counter-attacking threat.

He was twice involved as Norwich cut loose with a delightful build-up rewarded with a 27th-minute lead. Initially he brought the ball out of defence and then joined in again to set up Gary Megson. He fed Ruel Fox wide on the right and when the cross came over Sutton met it with a simple side-foot finish.

Their second nine minutes later came from the more direct route but again owed everything to precise passing, Ekoku collecting well and turning Colin Calderwood before finding the hole by Eric Thorstvedt's near post.

In between Norwich had safeguarded their lead only through Ian Culverhouse's saving tackle after Vinny Samways had raced away and gone round Bryan Gunn. It was one of many the last defender had to make as Spurs, before their biggest crowd of the season, tried everything to claw their way back.

Last time out, against Liverpool, they retrieved a two-goal deficit. Here the visitors found another yellow shirt barring their way as Thorstvedt made fingertip saves from Sutton, Fox and Mark Bowen, Spurs being reminded that if they were to score Norwich were easily capable of finding another.

That is how it ended. Darren Caskey's persistence cleared a path for Nicky Barmby to raise hopes in the 74th minute and right on time Ekoku, after a 70-yard solo run, extended Thorstvedt again and Sutton gratefully accepted the loose ball.

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

Norwich City (1-3-4-2): Gunn; Culverhouse; Newman, Butterworth, Woodthorpe; Fox (Ullathorne, 85), Crook, Megson, Bowen; Ekoku, Sutton. Substitutes not used: Smith, Howie (gk).

Referee: A Gunn (Sussex).

More football, pages 24 and 25

(Photograph omitted)

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