Anderton overcomes Savage's robustness

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Leicester City 1
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The Independent Football

There is a witticism currently doing the rounds that goes along the lines of, "If all is not lost, then where the hell is it?"

But it would probably not be a good idea to ask it anywhere near Filbert Street at the moment. To any Leicester fan, if all is not lost then it has definitely taken leave of its bearings and is heading south on a road sign-posted Nationwide.

Saturday's defeat at White Hart Lane saw them slip to 11 points from the final survival spot and even that fiery ball of optimism, Dave Bassett, is accepting that maybe the task is beyond them. "It's going to be very hard," the manager said. "In the last six games we haven't looked like a team that are completely bottom of the League, but that's where we are."

And those six games have yielded just one point and while Saturday showed that Leicester have far from given up, teams such as Spurs, safe in mid-table and still in two cups, simply have to be put away.

Indeed, Spurs looked to have both eyes on the Worthington Cup final against Blackburn in a fortnight, with only Darren Anderton and Les Ferdinand playing with any conviction. It was the former who was Leicester's main tormentor, celebrating his return to the England squad with 90 minutes that oozed class. His goal on 37 minutes – a right-foot volley after Steffen Iversen had headed into the area – and his ball that put Simon Davies in for the second on the hour mark were two moments that knocked the stuffing out of Leicester.

That they were able to launch any kind of fight-back was down to the urgings of their captain, Robbie Savage, who was at his mischievous best, playing up to the crowds' boos with all the pluck of Widow Twanky. His finest act was in tripping Mauricio Taricco up as he was running out to block Stefan Oakes' free-kick in the 79th minute. As Taricco and Savage sprawled on the ground like, as Bassett put it, "A right pair of Gladyses", Oakes' left-footed shot fizzed over their heads and past Neil Sullivan.

Cue mayhem, as the fouls thundered in and minutes later Taricco was again on the floor, this time clutching his face after Andy Impey had pushed him away. This bit of play-acting – which sparked a mélêe that saw Impey booked and Ferdinand come close to a caution that would have ruled him out of the Worthington Cup final – produced a remarkable reaction from Bassett. "[Taricco] is a disgrace to the game... I'd like to give him a good hiding. Players like that ought to be done away with. There he is cheating and Impey gets a yellow card – he's got a record for it, a reputation."

Bassett was so incensed he tried to get to Taricco in the tunnel. "But he wasn't so brave then was he? He was the last man on the pitch, and he was surrounded by six coppers." Which was probably a good thing for Taricco and Bassett.

Goals: Anderton (37) 1-0; Davies (61) 2-0; Oakes (79) 2-1.

Tottenham Hotspur (3-5-3): Sullivan 6; King 5, Richards 5, Thatcher 5 (Thelwell 5, 64); Taricco 5, Davies 6, Anderton 8, Sherwood 5, Etherington 6; Ferdinand 7 (Rebrov, 82), Iversen 5. Substitutes not used: Keller, Leonhardsen, Sheringham.

Leicester City (3-5-2): Walker 5; Sinclair 4; Laursen 4, Elliott 4; Impey 5, Oakes 6, Davidson 5, Savage 7, Stewart 4; Piper 4, Scowcroft 4. Substitutes not used: Royce, Marshall, Heath, Stevenson, Reeves.

Referee: A D'Urso (Billericay) 4.

Bookings: Tottenham: Iversen. Leicester: Impey.

Man of the match: Anderton.

Attendance: 35,973.