Football: Vega finish puts Spurs in the driving seat

Brentford 2 Tottenham Hotspur 3
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The Independent Online
THE MUCH-DERIDED Ramon Vega stabilised Tottenham with an 82nd- minute winner at Brentford last night. Vega, recalled to David Pleat's team after being dropped for Sunday's defeat by Middlesbrough, rose unmarked to head in a David Ginola corner won by the irrepressible Frenchman, the visitor's top man in terms of commitment as well as inspiration.

Yet Ron Noades's team had deserved a draw that looked to be theirs when Darren Freeman equalised on 63 minutes with a goal epitomising Tottenham's problems.

Freeman won a heading duel with Sol Campbell and the makeshift left-back Andy Sinton, returned to his normal club, hesitated before playing the ball past his own goalkeeper for the Brentford striker to score.

Brentford, inevitably, made short shrift of the 64 league placings between the teams by throwing themselves into the fray, out-muscling and out-running their esteemed visitors in the early stages. This seemed to surprise Tottenham.

Shortly after, Andy Scott blocked Espen Baardsen, as the goalkeeper sought to clear up-field, and saw the ball rebound just wide of the gaping goal. The former Sutton United striker then gave Brentford the lead. It was Scott, in fact, who was in the way of Darren Freeman's header goal-wards, following Warren Aspinall's 28th-minute corner, but he made amends by prodding in the loose ball as Tottenham dithered.

But Ginola kept urging on his team-mates and supplying dangerous crosses to the far post. And when Robert Quinn twice all-but assaulted Stephen Clemence, Colin Calderwood joined in to remind the Nationwide Leaguers that Spurs are not all lightweights.

Signs of resistance increased and materialised in the form of an equaliser two minutes before the interval. Rory Allen's lofted pass into the inside- right channel enabled Stephen Carr, of all people, to find space, look up and finish with composure and precision.

Indeed, six minutes after the interval Chris Armstrong, hitherto an anonymous figure, should have given the visitors the lead when he broke beyond Brentford's defence but lofted his chip just wide of Jason Pearcey's right hand post. The caretaker manager Pleat had himself taken tangible action to pep up Tottenham as an attacking force by introducing the winger Jose Dominguez at the break. Within eight minutes the decision was rewarded when he latched on to Chris Coyne's hash of Andy Sinton's cross-field pass to finish neatly.

Brentford (4-5-1): Pearcey; Boxall, Bates, Coyne, Powell; Anderson, Rowlands, Aspinall, Quinn, Freeman (Rapley, 74); Scott (Owusu, 82). Substitutes not used: Watson, Hebel; Oatway

Tottenham (4-5-1): Baardsen; Carr, Vega, Campbell, Tramezzani (Dominguez, 45); Sinton, Calderwood, Clemence, Ginola, Armstrong, Allen (Gower, 82).

Substitutes not used: Edinburgh, Segers (gk), Berti.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).