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Coca Cola Cup 2nd Round, 9/94
Tottenham Hotspur 8
Watford 6
An avalanche of goals
Reports by Tim Lattimer and Ian Grant

An extraordinary cup-tie, in every possible way. It only ended one goal short of the record for goals in a league cup tie, and must be one of the most entertaining that I have ever seen. Not only was there a brave and nearly successful fight-back against all the odds, in both games, not only did we get a shock away win against a Premiership team full of internationals, but some really good football was played by both sides.

1st Leg, 21/09/94
Watford 3(1)
Team: Digweed, Bazeley, Porter, Hessenthaler, Holdsworth, Millen, Ramage, Payne, Moralee, Porter, Mooney
Scorers: Ramage, Mooney, o.g.
Tottenham Hotspur 6(3)

To set the scene : we'd made an unspectacular start to the season, and had just got beaten 4-2 at home by the old enemy, largely due to the absence of Foster, who was then vital to our defence, and Miller. These two players both missed the first leg. Tottenham, under Ossie Ardiles and Steve Perryman were the then media darlings (Chelsea, beware!) largely due to Klinsmann. They also had Sheringham, Anderton, Dumitrescu, and, making his debut, Popescu, in the team (Barmby was injured, I think). They'd made a pretty good start to the season and people were talking of them as possible champions. It was a bit of a shock then, when we took the lead in the first minute, Mooney making a run down the left, crossing it in, and Ramage poking it home.

Spurs weren't shaken too much, and soon equalised, Anderton knocking an excellent shot in from the edge of the area within five minutes, aided by a Klinsmann backheel and some confusion in the defence. From then on, we were murdered for the rest of the half. Anderton and Klinsmann in particular were outstanding. Admittedly our defending was a bit shaky, but they were irresistible. After 15 minutes Klinsmann received the ball around 30 yards from goal, turned Holdsworth and ran on to tuck the ball under the advancing Digweed. Then he outjumped Holdsworth and Bazeley to put a superb header just inside the far post. Finally, he completed a first-half hat-trick after being put through by Dumitrescu. The referee blew for half-time almost immediately afterwards.

If ever there was a moment to despair, this was it. Despite the best possible start, we'd been absolutely hammered. The best we could hope for was to keep it to single figures. And yet we came out fighting. I don't know what Roeder said at half-time (probably nothing special, I think the "inspirational half-time talk" is a bit of a myth and the players just lift themselves - you see it often in the middle of a half), but far from coming out for a damage limitation exercise, we went out to win.

As the Premier league was beginning to discover, Tottenham's five attackers plan meant their defence was frequently exposed. We went for the jugular, but unfortunately our lack of a goalscorer (our front pairing was Mooney and Moralee) meant that we weren't making much of an inroad into the three goal deficit. Still, we were back in the game, and making chances. Mooney hit the bar from the edge of the area, but it rebounded to safety. Then Mooney got the ball near the edge of the area, Sol Campbell fell over trying to run with him, and appealed for a foul. Mooney kept on running, dummied the 'keeper, and slotted the ball in the net. It was the least we deserved, Mooney in particular for constant running at defenders - they were always in trouble when he got the ball.

We had a few more chances but Spurs always looked dangerous on the break - Sheringham missed an unbelievable open goal, Klinsmann chipped over when through on the 'keeper, and Anderton forced an excellent save from Digweed. Eventually the goal came, Sheringham ran onto a through ball, in between two defenders, and knocked it over Digweed who had come out to smother it.

This made it 5-2 for those still keeping count. Worse was to come though when with 6 or 7 minutes left, Moralee went through. He neatly evaded their defender who tried to trip him, and then rounded their keeper, Ian Walker. Walker tripped him, but wasn't even booked, although Moralee would have had an open goal. To compound the injustice (which was particularly galling since Miller was suspended for that game for a far less serious incident) he then produced a great save from Porter's penalty, and then within a couple of minutes Dumitrescu got onto a Sheringham knock down, rounded the keeper and put them 6-2 up.

We still didn't give up though, and in the last minute Hessenthaler got past another tumbling defender (this was the only game I've seen in which the defenders dived more than the attackers, I don't think Klinsmann dived once) and rounded the keeper (there was a lot of that as well that night). It was a tight angle and there were half a dozen players on the line, but he drove it in.

So, that was it. 6-3, and some brilliant attacking, and awful defending, by both sides. I remember leaving with a strong sense of injustice, but happy to have seen such a great match, in particular our second-half performance.

2nd Leg, 04/10/94
Tottenham Hotspur 2
Watford 3
Team: Miller, Lavin, Porter, Hessenthaler, Holdsworth, Foster, Bazeley, Ramage, Moralee, Johnson, Mooney
Subs: Nogan (for Bazeley)
Scorers: Foster, Nogan 2

The replay was only slightly less spectacular. Faced with a seemingly impossible task, the number of travelling Hornets was minimal and we were dumped in a building site at one end of White Hart Lane. The atmosphere was dead, Watford had decided to continue the comeback started in the second half at Vicarage Road and Spurs were there for the taking.

This report really should've been in 'Famous Victories' not 'Famous Defeats'. Watford led another remarkable match three times and were always on the brink of opening up the crucial two-goal lead, at which point it felt like anything could happen. In many ways, that sense of anticipation made a mere 3-2 at White Hart Lane feel like something of an anticlimax. Had Ian Walker been sent off and Gary Porter not missed that first leg penalty, a comeback really would've been on the cards.

As it was, the gap in class was enough to save Spurs from serious embarrassment. We were guilty of missing chances - Colin Foster missed two first half free headers in addition to the one he scored - while the home side were typically ruthless in front of goal. Bizarrely, and despite the avalanche of goals in the two legs of this tie, we were let down by our goalscoring.

Spurs were still booed off the pitch, though. Which was nice. Bob Wilson and Ian St John managed to prattle on for five minutes after the London coverage of both games without once using the word 'Watford'...

By this stage Ardiles's time had started to run out. The second leg was memorable for the start of Lee Nogan's goalscoring run, which lifted us to the play-off positions for the first time in years. Spurs played Notts County in the next round and got beaten 3-0 at home. Their promising start to the season had fallen apart. Our season, by contrast, finished well. We ended up in 7th place, and recorded a club record 9 games without conceding a goal - something most people at those games would have found hard to believe.

Within a few months Ardiles had gone. In came Gerry Francis, mid-table security, 4-4-2, Chris Armstrong, and, the next season, the best defensive season of any team in the Premiership. Out went Dumitrescu, Popescu, Klinsmann, and Barmby, Sheringham's probably on his way, and no doubt Anderton would have left if he hadn't had so many injuries. That night was probably their last great attacking performance. As for us, we never managed to reproduce the same kind of attacking form, and goals have remained a problem. No-score draws have been a feature, especially this season. Even now, three years later, we are still looking for that striker. Not so much a turning point for either side, then, as a glorious one-off. Still, it was no less memorable for all that.