Paul Smith (Spurs Odyssey)
I suppose in the wet conditions, and persistent rain, it was never going to be a night for pretty football, but Brentford (who languish 58 places below Spurs in the league) were the only heroes to emerge from tonight's proceedings, and whilst Spurs had plenty of chances to put themselves ahead in the tie, I would not begrudge the plucky hosts their draw. Indeed it was a bad night all round for Spurs, as they lost skipper Sol Campbell with only 35 minutes on the clock, and had Neil Sullivan sent off on the hour for a professional foul.
Sol has dislocated his shoulder as a result of a routine aerial challenge with Mark McCammon, left the field in some pain, and is a doubt for the next two England games next month. Whilst it was the Brentford keeper who had more saves to make, the travelling Spurs fans soon got bored with the football, and wheeled out some old (and mostly base) chants. Towards the end of the game they were crowing for "Hoddle, Hoddle, born is the King of White Hart Lane", and some resounding choruses of "We want Graham out". If you look at the current forum page of the official web site you will see that the majority of contributors are wholeheartedly behind Graham. One wonders how many of them are paying customers. George switched the side a bit, resting Sherwood, and giving Matthew Etherington a chance on the left, also bringing Thatcher back to the fray. Etherington was patchy, and I don't feel made the most of this opportunity to impress, against average opposition. Freund and Clemence struggled to provide any flair in the middle, and Sergei Rebrov was not too visible on his introduction to the English Cup Tie.
Ron Noades is still in charge at Brentford, and despite their poor league form, he has obviously got the ability to inspire his team, who to be honest put Spurs under a bit of pressure in the early stages. Sullivan had an early save to make from a free kick just outside the area, taken I believe by Evans. At the other end Steffen Freund shared dead ball responsibilities with Clemence, and Steffen pushed the ball to Leonhardsen, whose cross/shot was punched out by the young keeper, who was given some pretty rotten treatment by the Spurs fans as the half wore on. Yet this was not the first important save he had to make, as he was soon called upon to push another Leo effort round for a corner. In truth, Leonhardsen had time to spare with this effort, and should have scored with ease, in my view.
In between these two chances for Spurs, Rowlands floated a deep cross over from the right, and Gavin Mahon appeared Peters-style at the back post, but headed safely over the bar. A third chance arrived for Leonhardsen, this time provided by Carr. Instead of scoring himself, Leo tried to set up Matthew Etherington, who wasted his glorious opportunity by flashing his shot across the target.
Sol tried to lead by example and nearly slid in a goal from a Clemence free kick, only to put the ball to the left of the post. Our leader then powered his way out of defence, to provide scoring chances for Iversen and Etherington, both of which were blocked. This was to be the last action from Sol, who had to be escorted from the pitch, clearly in considerable discomfort, after his aerial challenge in defence.
The game remained very patchy after the interval, and it was a long time before any memorable moves were played. Iversen sprayed a long ball to the left, and made it all the way to the goalmouth to almost meet the return cross, then Rebrov had a shot diverted heavily for a corner after Clemence put him in. Sergei then met a Leo cross at the near post, but his shot was two yards wide of the mark
Then came the moment of (justified?)madness from Sullivan. Evans burst clear of the defence, and had only Sullivan between him and a near certain goal. Neil went racing out of his area, and 30 yards out spread his body across Evans' legs, bringing him down. I don't think referee Barber had any choice really, but Sullivan did what he had to do, if you ask me, and he did not grab the guy's ankles. I think he saved what would have been a goal.
Ian Walker may be ruing that transfer request now, as he is going to get an opportunity to win his place back. He did look quite nervous, but for much of the remainder, Spurs took the bull by the horns, and did succeed in playing in their opponents half, although there were one or two scares, such as an underhit back pass by Perry, and Walker only managing to tip a fairly routine cross out of danger.
Rebrov and Clemence (twice) forced further saves from Gottskalksson, and then the final whistle relieved us from further disjointed play, allowing us to trudge home and look forward (if that is the right expression) to the return next week.
Men of the Match
Stephen Clemance, but only because the commentator said. To be fair, he sounded alright, but then again everyone else performed really poor!
Goal of the match
No goals, no goal of the match!
Save of the Match
Their keeper again! Don't quite know his name, but he pulled off a few good saves and his best was from Steffen Iversen (reportedly)!
Moan of the Match
First Sol Campbell's injury to his shoulder, then Neil Sullivan being sent off, what the hell is going on at Tottenham Hotspur?