Kearton slip sinks Crewe

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The Independent Football

GEORGE GRAHAM had implored his players to be "more mean, even nasty", but for the large part of last night's game the Tottenham manager's plea fell upon deaf ears. Instead of winning by the length of White Hart Lane, they only secured their fourth-round derby against Fulham with three minutes remaining when Tim Sherwood chipped the Crewe goalkeeper.

GEORGE GRAHAM had implored his players to be "more mean, even nasty", but for the large part of last night's game the Tottenham manager's plea fell upon deaf ears. Instead of winning by the length of White Hart Lane, they only secured their fourth-round derby against Fulham with three minutes remaining when Tim Sherwood chipped the Crewe goalkeeper.

Spurs, as holders, showed the competition the respect of fielding a strong side with Sol Campbell back for his first game since the opening day of the season when he injured his calf at Upton Park. Steffen Iversen had recovered sufficiently from the heel injury he aggravated playing for Norway in Riga at the weekend to make the bench. In his place alongside Chris Armstrong for his full debut came John Piercy, a 20-year-old product of the club's youth policy - a case of blonde for blonde.

Not surprisingly for a club whose win over Sheffield United at the weekend lifted them off the bottom of the First Division, Crewe spent almost the entire opening 45 minutes on the back foot while still displaying enough good footballing habit to do credit to their manager, Dario Gradi.

Oyvind Leonhardsen ought to have done better with two chances created for him by David Ginola in the opening 14 minutes and Chris Armstrong wasted a chance when picked out with a cross by Piercy, who had just come close to scoring after a jinking run.

Crewe were broken after 54 minutes when Armstrong set up Leonhardsen for his fifth goal of the season at the near post. Crewe deserved better when, 11 minutes later Kearton, left a shot from Ginola and the ball flew in off a post. Their neat football, played albeit off the back foot, got its just desserts after 69 minutes when Shaun Smith scored from the penalty spot after Colin Cramb had been brought down.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Carr, Campbell, Perry, Taricco; Leonhardsen, Sherwood, Freund, Ginola; Armstrong, Piercy (Iversen, 74). Substitutes not used: Young, Nielsen, King, Baardsen (gk).

Crewe Alexandra (4-4-2): Kearton; Wright, Foran, Macauley, Smith; Cramb, Lunt (Street, 33), Charnock (Collins, 84), Sorvell; Rivers (Grant, h-t), Little. Substitutes not used: Bignot, Welsby (gk).

Referee: C R Wilkes (Gloucestershire).

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