Tottenham's first Premiership win since New Year's Day was inspired by the revival of Darren Anderton's fluent skills at White Hart Lane yesterday but Leicester simply reaffirmed their case for relegation, and no amount of post-match ranting by their manager, Dave Bassett, could camouflage the fact.
Bassett accused the Spurs defender, Mauricio Taricco, of cheating. Shortly after Leicester had scored a controversial goal, Andrew Impey seemed to head-butt Taricco, who crashed to the ground. Bassett saw it differently. "Taricco is a disgrace. Impey put his head in Taricco's face. Taricco fell down and Impey got his name taken. Taricco has got a reputation for it – I'd warned my players."
Bassett's anger was really frustration at seeing his team fight hard and narrowly fail to equalise at the end when Neil Sullivan saved instinctively from Callum Davidson. They had forced Spurs to hang on to a game they should have won comfortably.
On track in the FA Cup and having got his team to the Worthington Cup final, Glenn Hoddle seems to have conceded that a mid-table place would be enough this season. But before yesterday Spurs were perilously close to free-fall. Leicester, of course, have already fallen out of touch with the likelihood of safety.
Hoddle withheld Teddy Sheringham since another booking would have led to him missing the Worthington Cup final, but Les Ferdinand, also a caution away from suspension, needed a run-out and impressively imposed his power on Leicester's troubled defence. Alert and eager for possession, he was the target for Anderton's feeds from the left which provided the key to victory.
Throughout the first half Ian Walker, against a back-drop of his former home fans, must have recalled some of his less pleasant days when he kept goal for Spurs, but at least Leicester held firm until the 36th minute when Ferdinand headed down Taricco's cross. Steffen Iversen played the ball on and Anderton turned it in.
Anderton continued to be the enlivening force behind almost all of Spurs' most productive movements. Galloping down the edges or roaming elusively in space in midfield, he at last looked the skilful, athletic player who could grace any international pitch. What is more, he looked fit and strong. "Sicknote" certainly sent a purposeful letter of intent to Sven Goran Eriksson.
Several of Leicester's recent performances had suggested that but for ill-luck they might have found some solace, yet here their defence never looked capable of creating confidence. They rarely controlled Ferdinand, let alone Anderton, and it was hardly surprising to see Spurs increase their lead on the hour. Anderton took the ball from Ferdinand and cut it back from the byline to allow Simon Davies to slide in Tottenham's second comfortably.
It would have been an unusual match if Robbie Savage and not been involved in controversy. Leicester were awarded a free-kick outside the area. Davidson tapped it to Stefan Oakes as Savage blatantly knocked down Taricco, leaving a gap in the wall through which Oakes beat Sullivan. Rightly, Hoddle felt that was equally as disputable as anything Taricco may have down in the aftermath.
Savage and the referee were pursued by angry Spurs players. Ferdinand and Savage came head to head and Impey was lucky not to see red after the ensuing mêlée. Sensibly, Hoddle took off Ferdinand rather then risk a caution.Reuse content