Wolves caught cold by Spurs

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Football

PHIL SHAW

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Tottenham Hotspur 2

Wolves had failed to beat Spurs in five FA Cup meetings dating back to the 1921 final at the Crystal Palace, and even a palatial and passionate Molineux could not trick the First Division team into breaking that sequence at the sixth attempt in last night's fourth-round replay.

Spurs, who will visit either Nottingham Forest or Oxford in the fifth round, ended the game as a contest by scoring twice in the opening 10 minutes through Ronny Rosenthal and Teddy Sheringham. They never looked likely to relinquish their advantage, and might have doubled or even trebled it but for defiant goalkeeping by Mike Stowell and their own profligacy.

As long as Wolves kept the deficit at two goals there was always a possibility that Steve Bull might conjure something special to reignite the tie. In the event, he had a good chance early in the second half, which would have been an ideal time to unsettle Spurs, but he headed narrowly over.

As the evening wore on and the chasm in class grew ever wider, the only mystery was how Wolves had managed to drag one of the Premiership's better sides back to their lair in the first place. Wolves were without Dean Richards, who is recovering from a car crash, and Spurs wasted little time in exploiting the resultant lack of pace in the home back line.

Both goals had their origins deep in defence, yet they could hardly have been more contrasting in their construction. The first, after eight minutes, came when Wolves probably least expected it. Simon Osborn's corner was cut out by Gary Mabbutt and fed to Ruel Fox, who sprinted 60 yards into home territory before threading the ball into Rosenthal's path. The Israeli poked it through Stowell's legs from eight yards.

Wolves may have been trying to comprehend the speed of it all when Ian Walker sent a kick hurtling towards their penalty area. When it landed, Andy Thompson tried to find Stowell with a header, only to see Sheringham ghost into the gap between them and steer an angled shot into the far corner.

Colin Calderwood looked to have made it 3-0 in the 17th minute, prodding in the rebound after a Sol Campbell header came out off the bar. Mr Allison ruled that Sheringham had strayed offside, but Wolves were singularly unable to build on their good fortune.

In times past, Bull's miss would have been the signal for an old-gold onslaught. On this occasion, it merely served to remind Spurs that the game was not yet won. Stowell's outstretched foot thwarted the rampaging Rosenthal; Fox and Chris Armstrong both blazed over when well-placed; and after Bull had finally tested Walker seven minutes from time, Sheringham twice had shots hacked off the line.

Gerry Francis, the Spurs manager, said: "If I've got any complaint at all it's that we should have scored more goals, although I can't for the life of me understand why Calderwood's effort was disallowed. It was a tricky tie in front of 28,000 of their supporters, but I thought we were outstanding."

His opposite number, Mark McGhee, bemoaned the "silly mistake" by Thompson that had cost his team dear. "If you do that against a team of their quality, they're going to punish you," he said. "Not many teams in the First Division could break out from a corner and score like Spurs did."

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-5-2): Stowell; Young, Venus, Emblen; Rankine (Daley, 58), Atkins, Osborn, Ferguson, Thompson; Bull, Goodman. Substitutes not used: De Wolf, Jones (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Austin, Calderwood, Mabbutt, Wilson; Fox, Dozzell, Campbell, Rosenthal; Sheringham, Armstrong. Substitutes not used: Nethercott, Caskey, Day (gk).

Referee: D Allison (Lancaster).

More reports, results, page 27

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