Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tottenham's Joy of Winning the Cup 7 (1999)

It was a long time in coming but eventually 'the man in the raincoat' oversaw Tottenham's third League (Worthington) Cup success after only a few months in charge.  The run to Wembley had many memorable moments even if the Final itself was a disappointment, although in the end Tottenham experienced the joy of winning the Cup.

1999 Worthington Cup Final
Tottenham Hotspur 1 Leicester City 0

Last Gasp Neilsen Wins Cup for Tottenham
Nielsen - Scorer and Man of the Match
The 1999 Worthington Cup Final is probably the least memorable of all of Tottenham's Cup Final appearances.  In an extremely dull game where neither side seemed capable of winning and with extra time looming, a goal in the final minute from Allan Neilsen brought an end to all the tedium and ensured another Cup Final victory for Spurs.  George Graham, the manager that no Spurs supporter wanted had brought silverware to the club within five months of taking charge.  Throughout his tenure the nearest supporters came to acknowledging him was by referring to the team as 'the man in the raincoat's blue and white army'.  Tottenham had been reduced to ten men when Justin Edinburgh was harshly sent off but they showed grit against a lack-lustre Leicester City team to score the late, late winner.

Road to Wembley
2nd Round (1st Leg) v Brentford (a) Won 3 - 2  Carr, Dominguez, Vega
By the time this tie came round in mid-September Tottenham had already plunged into crisis when following two disappointing defeats to Wimbledon and Sheffield Wednesday, Christian Gross was removed from his post less than a year after becoming manager at White Hart Lane.  David Pleat took control as caretaker manager until an appointment was made.

Brentford, in the 3rd Division, took the lead midway through the first half although Spurs had been fortunate on a couple of occasions not to concede earlier.  It wasn't until a minute to the interval that Stephen Carr equalised with his first ever goal for Spurs.  Tottenham enjoyed a period of dominance early in the second half and were rewarded when Jose Dominguez scored.  However, Spurs continued to make mistakes allowing Brentford to level from a poor back pass after 66 minutes.  It took Ramon Vega's headed goal from a David Ginola corner with eight minutes remaining to give Spurs the advantage at the end of the 1st leg.

2nd Round (2nd Leg) v Brentford (h) Won 3 - 2  Nielsen, Campbell, Armstrong
Brentford stunned Spurs by levelling the tie in the first minute of the match and could have gone ahead from a long range shot but for an acrobatic save from Hans Segers.  Brentford matched Spurs throughout the first half only for Allan Nielsen to equalise after a shot from Chris Armstrong had been parried by the goalkeeper on 24 minutes.  Sol Campbell gave Spurs the lead within a minute of the restart, following up after a Ginola shot had been blocked by the keeper.  Seven minutes later Spurs had a two goal advantage after Nielsen hit the post and Armstrong was on hand to knock in the rebound.  Brentford weren't going to lie down and scored with fifteen minutes remaining and while Spurs progressed, it was Brentford who deserved all the praise and credit from the two matches.

3rd Round v Northampton Town (a) Won 3 - 1  Armstrong (2), Campbell 
This is the sort of Cup tie that Tottenham don't like but under new manager, George Graham, they made no mistakes although the home team did take the lead after half an hour after a mistake from Espen Baardsen.  On a near water-logged pitch Armstrong equalised nine minutes later and Campbell's goal two minutes after the interval settled Spurs who added a third through Armstrong seven minutes from time.  David Ginola inspired Spurs, working hard to drive them forward against the 2nd Division team, although he saw a penalty that he had earned with Spurs 2 - 1 ahead, saved by the goalkeeper.

 4th Round v Liverpool (a) Won 3 - 1  Iversen, Scales, Nielsen
A trip to Anfield where Spurs hadn't won since 1995 but Spurs were in control from the second minute when Steffan Iversen put them ahead although Liverpool had hit the bar in the opening minute.  After 20m minutes John Scales scored past Brad Friedel (a future Spurs goalkeeper)against his former club and then with an hour gone Nielsen made it three - an unbelievable score line for Tottenham fans.  With ten minutes left Liverpool scored a consolation goal but Tottenham had a victory to savour.

5th Round v Manchester United (h) Won 3 - 1  Armstrong (2), Ginola 
David Ginola was the inspiration behind this Spurs performance and capped it with an outstanding goal to seal the victory.  A weakened United kept Spurs alert but two headed goals from Armstrong early in the second half put Spurs in the ascendancy and while Teddy Sheringham pulled one back with twenty minutes to go, Ginola's 'special' strike ensured their passage to the semi-finals.  This was the only competition that United didn't win in their 'treble' season, foiled by the 'mighty' Spurs.

Semi-Final (1st Leg) v Wimbledon (h) Draw 0 - 0
This match was the third of a series of five League and Cup games between the two teams played in a month.  The first two, played in the previous week had ended scoreless and this one continued the sequence giving Wimbledon the psychological advantage with the second leg at home.  The visitors defended stoutly and although Spurs created the better chances, the stalemate continued.

Semi-Final (2nd Leg) v Wimbledon (a) Won 1 - 0  Iversen
The fourth game of the sequence had seen Spurs triumph with an emphatic 3 - 0 success in the FA Cup replay at White Hart Lane.  This was a typically, physical bustling Cup-tie with both teams giving their all.  From that industry a moment of exquisite skill by Iversen seven minutes before half-time was enough to take Spurs to Wembley.  Ferdinand pressurised a defender to pass back to his goalkeeper but he directed the ball to Iversen who coolly and composed chipped the ball over the stranded keeper, Neil Sullivan - another future Tottenham keeper, and into the net from the edge of the penalty area.  In the second half, it was backs to the wall as Spurs defended their lead with energy.  Not a pretty sight but in true George Graham style, very effective.

Worthington Cup Final v Leicester City (at Wembley) Won 1 - 0  Nielsen
In a match that has long been forgotten by all but Tottenham supporters, Leicester City were set up to deny Spurs time and space but with few attacking ides of their own.  Spurs were unable to take advantage of these negative tactics and were drawn into a game of attrition.  Even when Justin Edinburgh was sent off following a minor altercation with Robbie Savage after an hour, Leicester didn't show any urgency or inclination to try to win the game.  Just as it looked as if everyone was going to have to endure thirty minutes of extra time, Spurs broke on the right and worked the ball to Iversen who powered in on goal and shot, Kasey Keller, yet another future Tottenham keeper, could only parry his effort and Allan Nielsen who was following up, flung himself forward to head the ball into the net.   The 90th minute had come and gone so supporters knew that goal was going to be the winner.  Cue rejoicing among Spurs supporters around Wembley and celebration as Sol Campbell lifted the Cup. It wasn't the greatest of Finals or Cup Final victories but Spurs had the joy of winning another trophy and were back in Europe once again.

Team: Walker; Carr, Vega, Campbell, Edinburgh; Anderton, Freund, Nielsen, Ginola (Sinton), Iversen, Ferdinand.  Subs (unused): Baardsen, Young, Dominguez, Armstrong. 

Allan Nielsen
Allan Nielsen, a Danish international midfielder, joined Tottenham in 1996 from Brondby for a fee of £1.65 million.  He made 96 League appearances for the club, scoring 12 goals.  He made 18 Cup appearances and scored 6 goals, including three in the Worthington Cup - all coming in the Cup winning season with the Wembley winner as the most memorable.  He received the 'Man of the Match' award as Tottenham lifted their third League Cup trophy.  However, the arrival of Tim Sherwood from Blackburn Rovers who was Cup-tied for this competition restricted Nielsen's opportunities at Spurs.  The following season he played fewer games for Spurs so went out on loan and was transferred to Watford for £2.5 million in July, 2000.

Goalkeepers:  Tottenham used three goalkeepers through this competition.  Espen Baardsen had replaced Ian Walker after the two defeats at the beginning of the season.  Hans Segers was called upon for the home tie against Brentford when Baardsen was injured but Walker had reclaimed the position by the time of the Manchester United match.

The Cup run also saw Spurs play against three goalkeepers who would through time become the occupant of the Number 1 shirt at White Hart Lane.  Neil Sullivan joined Tottenham from Wimbledon in the summer of 2000 and Kasey Keller would then replace Sullivan after signing in 2002.  Brad Friedel would join Spurs, aged forty in the summer of 2011 after spending his career playing for Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa.


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