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Littlewoods League Cup 4th Round, 22nd November 1989

It was a night when the newspapers clamed ‘Rovers earned the Spurs!’ 36 years after their last visit to prenton park, mighty Tottenham Hotspur were in town for the 4th round of the Littlewoods Cup and fielded a full strength line up including the likes of Garry Mabbutt, Paul Gascoihne and Gary Lineker, yet they did not fare much better that their predecessors in 1953. Top of division 3, and basking in their intensive media interest occasioned by their inexorable roll towards the upper echelons of the game, Tranmere Rovers went into the match brimming with confidence. In fact, manager John King said beforehand ‘I’ve got to scrape a few of them off the ceiling and get their feet back down on the ground.’ Not only did Rovers brave players match, occasionally out-play and almost defeat one of the nations most glamorous football clubs, they fought their way into the draw for a quarter-finals that was without teams like Liverpool, Everton and Arsenal who had all fallen by the wayside. While spurs could point to 2 dubious decisions which went against them, in the end they owed their 2nd chance at White Heart Lane to a Tranmere player, the unlucky Dave Higgins. With 20 minutes to go and defending a 2:1 lead, Higgins was the unlucky ‘Johnny on the spot’ when he turned a dangerous low centre from Vinny Samways into his own net. Thereafter, Eddie Bishop could have won it for Rovers but headed tamely at Thorstvedt. In reply, a Mabbutt shot had Nixon scrambling across his goal but towards the final whistle it seems both sides were content to extend the tie to a potential money spinner at White Heart Lane. In the end Rovers deserved a second bite of the cherry as they had fought their way back into the game after an early setback. Right from the kick-off the brilliant Paul Gascoigne was irrepressible form, showing off the full repertoire of his sumptuous skills. He also displayed a capacity to drive some of his teammates to despair. Garry Lineker was clearly less the pleased after making a 30 yard run into space expecting Gazza to find him only to turn and see the clown prince arrogantly sitting on the ball inviting his marker to take it off him. That said, no one could deny him a superb opening goal in the 31st minute, when he ran effortlessly on to a Thomas pass and then clipped the ball past the advancing Nixon. Gascoign though, was not the only midfielder to catch the eye. Jimmy Harvey’s range of passing was a joy and he was ably assisted by a pitbull performance from Eddie Bishop. If Ian Mour had found himself well shackled by Bergsson and Polston, Rovers proved they were no 1 man band when defender Steve Vickers, looking suspiciously offside, was allowed to advance on Thorstvedt and slot in Bishop’s pass 5 minutes into the second half. Samways then had a goal disallowed, much to Terry Venables chagrin. If Spurs felt aggrieved and those set backs they can have no complaints when Rovers turned the match on its head in the 62nd minute when Jim Steel launched himself at a deep cross from Mark Hughes and his header looped over Thorstvedt and into the net. But Higgons own-goal spoiled the party and it was Rovers turn to bemoan their

Tranmere Rovers: Nixon, Higgins, Pike, Bishop (Martindale), Hughes, Vickers, Morrissey (Malkin), Harvey, Steel, Muir, Mungall .

Tottenham Hotspurs :Thorstvedt, Thomas, Polston, Bergsson (Stevens), Howells, Mabbutt, Samways, Gascoign, Stewart (Walsh), Lineker, Allan.

Referee: Len Shapter (Torquay)

Attendance: 13,789



MOTTO: UBI FIDES IBI LUX ET ROBUR which means "Where there is faith, there is light and strength."

Designed by Ned O'Toole, Paul Harmon and Oisín Ronan.
Special thanks to Tranmere Rovers Football club for the information.