FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
MONDAY 3RD DECEMBER, 2001
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (0) BOLTON WANDERERS 2 (1)
Referee:- Paul Durkin
Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; King, Perry (sub Bunjevcevic, 46), Richards; Davies, Freund (sub Ferdinand, 46), Anderton, Poyet, Ziege; Sheringham (Capt), Rebrov (sub Leonhardsen, 87)
Subs not used:- Beasant; Thatcher
Bolton (4-5-1):- Jaaskelainen; N'Gotty, Bergsson (Capt), Whitlow, Charlton; Gardner (sub Johnson, 87), Farrelly (sub Hansen, 87), Nolan, Frandsen, Wallace; Ricketts (sub Holdsworth, 73)
Subs not used:- Poole (GK); Southall
Booked:- Nolan, Ricketts
We knew before the game that this could be one of those nights, didn't we? You know - every time Spurs looked like doing something special in recent years, they managed to fall flat on their faces, even against moderate opposition. Nobody should underestimate Sam Allardyce's Premiership new boys though, as they had previously only lost once on their league travels, and also conceded more than one away goal on that one occasion. Having opened the season with a 5-0 drubbing of Leicester, and beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford, Bolton were nobody's fools.
The visitors came with a typical away plan. They played 4-5-1, with Ricketts alone up front, although Rod Wallace offered immediate support when a break justified such action. Indeed, when Nolan back-heeled somewhat miraculously into Ricketts path, and the big Brummie beat Ledley King and the rest of the defence with a cleverly placed left foot shot to the right of Sullivan, the visitors were allowed to get their men behind the ball, and tease Spurs to just try and pierce their barrier. This was one chess game where Hoddle's men moved in all the right places, but rarely showed the imagination, or speed of thought to equalise. Ziege's twelfth minute free kick was pushed round the corner by a marvellous one handed save by flying Finn Jussi Jaaskelainen, but that was the nearest Spurs came to hitting the net.
There was a nice exchange featuring Rebrov, Teddy and Poyet, but Gus's shot was blocked and diverted for a corner. On another occasion, Sheringham had set Poyet up on the right of the box, with space ahead of him, but for some inexplicable reason, Gus chose to pass the ball back to a team-mate that wasn't where he thought he was, and that was to be the tale of so many Spurs intricate passes tonight. Too often, they just didn't come off. Bolton had plenty of pace, and Gardner had threatened when racing ahead with a long accurate throw from the goalkeeper. Nolan and Ricketts fed Wallace, who could only fire weakly at Sullivan.
Hoddle had shaken up his back three so that Richards played on the left, Perry in the middle, and Ledley King on the right. None of them looked too assured, and this was a night when England manager Mr Eriksson was watching. I would go as far to say, that apart from one marvellous saving tackle on Holdsworth in the second half (Bunjevcevic had gifted the ball in the middle of the park), Richards had a bit of a mare, too often giving the ball away, or being turned too easily. Both he and Ledley were allowed forward though, and it was King who hit a shot wide after Ziege's effort had been blocked.
So, Spurs were one down at the interval, and not long ago, we might not have clawed our way back into the game. But our man Hoddle is not afraid to make dramatic changes when necessary, and his double substitution at the start of the second half, of Bunjevcevic and Ferdinand for Perry and Freund respectively was to prove immediately rewarding. Initially, Bunjee played in front of a back four, but once Spurs had got the lead, they reverted to a back three, with Bunjee in the middle, and Richards and King reverting to their more natural positions.
Spurs were level in the 47th minute. Anderton's deep cross from the right was met at the back post by Ferdinand. His looping header hit the post, and Whitlow could only send the ball onto the bar, in his effort to clear. Gus Poyet followed up smartly to head the ball into the net. He also raced back to the middle with the ball, and Hoddle had obviously fired the team up appropriately.
Within a minute Ricketts was diving in our area, and was lucky to escape what would have been a second booking.Luckily for him, the pace of the game was such that Spurs counter-attacked through the middle, with some brilliant neat passes, via Bunjevcevic and Sheringham, before Bunjee got the final touch to Les, who slotted home with a strong right foot shot to the left of the keeper. It wasn't long though before Bolton were level again, as Wallace was allowed to advance down the inside left channel (leaving Poyet amongst others in his wake), and Sullivan allowed his not very strong shot under his body for the equaliser.
By this time, Bolton had responded well tactically, and put two men up front, taking the game to the home side. Darren Anderton was awarded the Sky Man of the Match award, and he sent Ziege away with a beautiful long pass. Ziege's low cross was in that wonderful danger zone in front of the goalie, but the ball evaded any Spurs players. Sergei Rebrov had been rewarded for his fine performance at Craven Cottage with a start tonight, and he played his full part in the recovery. With three men around him, he managed to turn and pass back to Gus, who hit his shot wide of the left post.
With four minutes left Simon Davies made a battling run down the right flank and won a free kick near the corner flag. Whitlow felt he had been cheated, but Ziege whipped in a great ball for Captain Sheringham to head home from the near post, and seal the three points that take us up to fifth place in the league! For the second time this season, we have won three games on the trot. When was the last time that happened?! We have also won 7 out of our last 9 games, and its good to be a Spur!
· Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here
· Declan Mulcahy's Last Five Stats for this game can still be read here
· Check the current team appearances, cards and scorers in all competitions
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