Spurs' torment ended by Iversen

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The Independent Football

Never mind the quality, Tottenham last night laboured into the third round of the Worthington Cup when, after a dismal first half, they scored twice in the second to overcome Brentford from the Nationwide Second Division. Goals from Oyvind Leonhardsen and Steffen Iversen delivered George Graham's team from the torment of a run in which goals and entertainment had been in short supply.

Never mind the quality, Tottenham last night laboured into the third round of the Worthington Cup when, after a dismal first half, they scored twice in the second to overcome Brentford from the Nationwide Second Division. Goals from Oyvind Leonhardsen and Steffen Iversen delivered George Graham's team from the torment of a run in which goals and entertainment had been in short supply.

Tottenham began as if industry and direct football would bring an immediate end to their recent goal famine. Without a goal in three games since their 1-0 victory against West Ham on 11 September, Spurs should have been looking for width and variety but resorted to a predictable approach that produced a string of chances but rarely threatened a breakthrough.

Sergei Rebrov was the main spring of their best ideas but lacked support in attack, particularly as Les Ferdinand endured an opening half he would want to forget. He fluffed most of his openings, heading wide from a Rebrov cross after 17 minutes and then forcing the ball over the line only to be ruled offside after half an hour.

Rebrov saw a dipping volley saved and a smart 20-yard effort that skimmed across the surface stopped also as he attempted to inject accuracy and urgency into the Tottenham attack.

As the opening half drew towards the interval, Brentford themselves threatened to steal the initiative. In the 35th minute their tall Italian striker, Lorenzo Pinamonte, escaped Chris Perry, reached the penalty box and went down when challenged from behind. It might have been a penalty on another night. Two minutes later, the impressive Martin Rowlands drifted in from the right for a low shot, which Neil Sullivan saved at the second attempt.

Tottenham could have fallen behind after 52 minutes when Ramon Vega sliced a clearance into the path of Scott Partridge, who wriggled into a shooting position but fired high and wide. Woken by that, Tottenham took the lead at the other end when Leonhardsen forced home their long-awaited breakthrough goal. The Norwegian midfielder had been making probing forward runs and gained his reward when he latched on to a scuffed header by Scott Marshall and steered a right-foot shot beyond Olafur Gottskalksson.

Spurs' second goal came after 81 minutes when Sullivan threw the ball clear to Stephen Carr. He ran 40 yards, cut in and from his low shot, which was parried, Iversen was left with an easy finish.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Sullivan; Carr, Perry, Vega, Thatcher; Sherwood, Leon Hardsen, Iversen, Freund; Rebrov, Ferdinand (Dominguez, 71). Substitutes not used: Walker (gk), Doherty, Clemente, Thelwell.

Brentford (4-4-2): Gottskalksson; Quinn, Marshall, Crowe, Ingimarsson, Evans, Rowlands (Williams, 65), Mahon, Folan, Partridge, Pinamonte (Dodson, 73). Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), Theobald, Graham.

Referee: A Butler (Sutton-in-Ashfield).

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