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Report: Newcastle 0-2 Spurs

Posted on 21 October 2001  - 12:00

English Barclays Premiership

Just under two years ago St James' Park witnessed, shall we say, kindly, an indifferent Spurs display as we were dumped out of the FA Cup 6-1. Last season wasn't much better, a 2-0 Premiership defeat where the pundits might have pointed out 'and they were lucky to get none'.

So perhaps it was no surprise that 50,000 home fans were left dumbstruck as Tottenham Hotspur, same team in name but very little else, outplayed their beloved black and white stripes.

Our slick passing had that little more zip on a sodden surface and, in truth, the home side just didn't come to terms with a team that could knock the ball to feet all day.

Glenn Hoddle suggested beforehand that an early target would be to silent the Toon Army in this wonderful stadium. Mission accomplished inside 20 minutes.

They had an early warning with just four minutes on the clock when Mauricio Taricco latched onto Les Ferdinand's flick only to sent an attempted lob wide.

Newcastle's best attack of the half arrived two minutes later as Chris Perry did well to avert danger after Nobby Solano drove a wicked low cross to the near post.

But from then to half-time it was all Spurs. The first goal came after seven minutes when Darren Anderton received a quick free-kick, saw his first attempt blocked but drove his second, left footed, into the far corner via a deflection.

Just over 10 minutes later and it was 2-0. A delightful period of possession ended with Sheringham's cross being hacked away but Anderton picked up the clearance, fed Taricco and his deep cross was met by a looping Gus Poyet header back over Shay Given and into the corner.

We continued to pass the ball around as, much to the Toon Army's frustration, United failed to get to grips with it.

Clear-cut chances remained at a premium though and it wasn't until 41 minutes that another was carved out as Anderton played a sharp one-two with Sheringham only for the overworked Andy O'Brien to block his attempted chip.

Of course, it couldn't be all good news and Taricco limped off just five minutes into the second half clutching his ankle after a chase down the touchline. Simon Davies took his place as we switch to a 4-4-2 system with Perry moving to right-back.

Davies made an immediate impact, chipping through a near perfect pass that Ferdinand couldn't quite get a toe to and then reaching the byline after a one-two with Freund only to cross too deep.

More incisive one-touch football saw Sheringham release Ferdinand only for the striker to snatch at his shot and at the other end, Laurent Robert's dangerous free-kick somehow evaded everyone.

Newcastle started to push men forward and, naturally, chances were created. Davies had to be on his toes to deflect Bellamy's cross to safety after 65 minutes and the same player was there again to head Robert's inswinging corner off the line seven minutes later.

Livewire Bellamy was the outlet in United's best spell but we almost caused our own problems when Sullivan had to race out and beat Shearer in a 50-50 when Dean Richards' back pass fell a little short.

Sheringham clipped the top of the crossbar after 81 minutes and United went close twice, Bellamy missing the target in a one-on-one chance and Bassedas' low drive zipping just wide.

At the other end, Sergei Rebrov shot over from close range after a Sheringham/Davies combination and, in the last minute, the Ukrainian's one-on-one chance was smoothered by Given.

There was still time for lively substitute Lua Lua to shoot into the side netting and Dabizas's diving header was superbly tipped aside by Sullivan.

In the end though, the performance in the first 45 minutes was more than enough to warrant the three points.