Spurs caught on the counter

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The Independent Online
Tottenham Hotspur 0 Nottingham Forest 1

Gerry Francis, Tottenham's manager, had already resigned himself to having a bad weekend before he spoke to the scorer of Saturday's goal. But when he heard Steve Stone's cheery admission that the speculative lob which ended Tottenham's run of six consecutive wins had been meant as a cross, bad turned to worse.

If Stone's effort was an accident, it was a sublime one, completing a movement that stood out like an articulated sentence in a muddle of half- expressed ideas.

As Stone received red and white acclamation from the supporters packed into the corner of the ground directly in front of him, another celebration was occurring at the spot where the move had originated as Forest's back four clambered all over the figure of Chris Bart-Williams.

He had dispossessed Tottenham's pounds 4.2m debutant, Ruel Fox, in the left- back position and from there the ball was transferred swiftly up field via Stuart Pearce, Scot Gemmill and Bryan Roy before ending at the feet of the man who had so unexpectedly brightened England's Norwegian outing in midweek. It was classic counter-attacking from the side which has now gone 22 games without defeat in the Premiership and, although fortune entered into it, Forest had already earned their luck.

After a torpid first half, they raised the tempo to create a succession of chances before Stone intervened decisively. The omens for an extended Uefa Cup run this season are good.

Tottenham still looked less than the sum of their parts, although they were crucially weakened by the thigh injury which prevented Chris Armstrong from partnering Teddy Sheringham upfront. Fox, who worked neatly but to little effect throughout, clearly needs time to settle. Even when he does, however, he is not capable of exerting a steady influence upon a match. For that, Spurs look to Darren Anderton - whose groin injury is likely to keep him out for at least another month.

"If I could play a team which included Fox, Anderton, Armstrong and Sheringham, it would be very exciting," Francis said.

The prospect brought only the faintest of smiles to his face. It was going to be a long weekend.

Goal: Stone (65) 0-1.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Austin, Calderwood, Mabbutt, Wilson; McMahon, Howells, Campbell, (Dozzell, 74), Rosenthal; Fox, Sheringham. Substitutes not used: Edinburgh, Thorstvedt (gk).

Nottingham Forest: (4-4-2): Crossley; Lyttle, Cooper, Chettle, Pearce; Stone, Gemmill, Bart-Williams, Woan; Roy, (McGregor, 79 ), Lee. Substitutes not used: Silenzi, Haland.

Referee: R Hart (County Durham).

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