"Spurs are on their way to Cardiff" does not have quite the ring of the Chas 'n' Dave original, but ring true it may in the new year. It resounded round an under-populated Craven Cottage from the throats of the visiting supporters last night and, within minutes of Simon Davies scoring the winning goal of a scrappy Worthington Cup tie, there was further reason for song: the former Tottenham heroes, Clive Allen and Paul Walsh, pulled out a favourable quarter-final draw, at home to Bolton Wanderers in under a fortnight's time.
Even before that, the teams will meet at White Hart Lane in the Premiership on Monday. Spurs ought to be capable of winning both games, against unpredictable opposition, though Bolton unlike Fulham last night will presumably pay them the respect of putting out their strongest team. As is usual in this competition, Fulham took the liberty of leaving out players, putting five first-team regulars on the substitutes' bench, with Sylvain Legwinski not even getting that far. As a result, they lacked the cohesion and quality of passing evident recently in an impressive run of League performances. "Sunday's match against Leeds is more important for me," Jean Tigana, the Fulham manager, said in justifying his team selection.
"It is up to managers of other clubs to decide what they do, but the changes we made were forced upon us," said Tottenham's Glenn Hoddle, who had sent out the strongest team at his disposal: Dean Richards was ineligible, while Les Ferdinand and Gustavo Poyet had joined Mauricio Taricco on the injured list. That combination of circumstances allowed Goran Bunjevcevic and Sergei Rebrov to return after nine weeks' absence each.
It was an eventful comeback for Rebrov, who opened the scoring after 15 minutes despite having spent most of that time having a cut head stitched. In only the second minute, he took a knock creating a chance for Oyvind Leonhardsen and had to retreat to the dressing-room. Barely five minutes after returning, he was perfectly positioned to beat Maik Taylor as Teddy Sheringham set him up with a typically deft flick.
Fulham's opportunities were less clear-cut, and fewer than Tigana would have liked, stemming in the main from Ledley King's unexpected susceptibility to passes played in behind him. Barry Hayles, clean through, and Luis Boa Morte failed to take advantage, but, right at the end of the first half, Bunjevcevic and Chris Perry lost Hayles, who stole in between them to slide home a header from Steve Finnan's cross.
Emboldened by the goal, Fulham moved forward with greater conviction after the interval and after an hour even deigned to send on another of the "A" team in Steed Malbranque. The passing improved, reaching a level closer to Tigana's high standards, though the finishing remained below them, Boa Morte shooting wastefully high after being played in by Malbranque.
Although Tottenham had lost much of their zing, Sheringham led one dangerous counter-attack, forcing Taylor into a fine save with his jab from close in as Rebrov crossed low from the right. Then, four minutes from the end, Darren Anderton's free-kick was neatly headed back by King for Davies to hit a low drive past Taylor for the winning goal.
Fulham (4-4-2): Taylor; Finnan, Ouaddou, Goma, Harley; Goldbaek (Malbranque, 61), Davis, Clark, Collins; Hayles, Boa Morte (Saha, 78). Substitutes not used: Van der Sar (gk), Brevett, Melville.
Tottenham Hotspur (3-5-2): Sullivan; Perry, Bunjevcevic, King; Davies, Anderton, Freund, Leonhardsen (Thatcher, 85), Ziege; Sheringham, Rebrov. Substitutes not used: Kelly (gk), Iversen, Thelwell, Piercy.
Referee: M Halsey (Welwyn Garden City).Reuse content