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Match Reports
Spurs v Bolton, 01.11.03


Nolan, 72

Attendance:- 35,191

Referee:- Uriah Rennie

Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr (Capt.), Doherty, Richards, Taricco (sub Blondel, 63); Anderton, Poyet (sub Postiga, 46), King (sub Mabizela, 85), Konchesky; Zamora, Keane

Subs not used:- Burch; Bunjevcevic

Booked:- Carr, Konchesky, Blondel

Bolton (4-1-4-1):- Jaaskelainen; Hunt, N'Gotty, Charlton, Gardner; Campo; Nolan, Frandsen, Okocha (Capt.), Giannakopoulos (sub Pedersen, 85); Davies

Subs not used:- Poole; Barness; Ba, Jardel

No bookings

The caretaker's honeymoon period, during which he had been unbeaten in 6 games, came to a miserable end today, as casual Spurs slumped against Bolton, who thoroughly deserved their first win at the Lane since 1959, lifting themselves up to 15th place in the process. Star of the game was Bolton skipper Jay-Jay Okocha, who had finished Spurs with a last gasp penalty at The Reebock stadium this Spring, and who today led a side who hit the woodwork no less than 4 times, 3 of which were down to Okocha himself. Indeed it was Okocha's shot that Keller failed to hold, for Nolan to sweep home in front of the visiting fans.

So, Bolton were deserved winners, and clearly recovered better than the hosts from their midweek Carling Cup game, although Spurs played one day later and had that extra-time period to deal with. However, not all those present today had even played in that game, as David Pleat brought back the old guard of Anderton and Poyet, to the consternation of the home fans, and after a short while to the delight of Bolton, as they ran the game in most parts of the ground. This was achieved without a first choice centre-back as Thome and Laville were injured.

Why could Spurs not have started with the team that finished the West Ham game, when Robbie Keane was working well behind Zamora and Postiga, Blondel was dazzling on the right, and Mabizela and King looked as if they might forge a good midfield partnership? Anthony Gardner was still missing too, and apparently has a knock. There was me thinking he was being rested for the Arsenal game next week, when his pace will desperately be needed for the likes of Henry. The Spurs midfield resembled a diamond, with Poyet supporting the strikers, Anderton on the right, and Ledley King inside Konchesky. In the early stages it looked as if this strategy might neutralise Bolton well, as they deployed Campo in front of the back four, and had four players across the park behind Davies up front.

After a while though, Spurs became too casual, and it is difficult to find members of the team who could not be criticised at some stage today. Perhaps I would leave Richards and Taricco out of such feedback, but their team-mates were lacking at some stage. Doherty too often headed clearances straight to the opposition, even when he had time to place it to a colleague. He was also guilty of an unforgiveable error on the half way line in the second half, when he lost out to Davies, instead of passing promptly. Even Carr was able to mess up in a similar way. Ledley King looks as if he needs a lot more confidence as he tries to re-establish himself in the middle, and looked far from the dominating ball-winning midfielder that is needed. If you ask me, Robbie Keane is a little off his game, and has only scored twice so far this season. Somehow, Bobby Zamora was voted the Spurs ((ON)) Man of the Match, but he looks far from Premiership class. When he came on in the second half, Helder Postiga looked nowhere near his debut goal, and he too was casual when trying a lazy back-heel for a goal from 8 yards, which was easily cleared.

In the early stages, Darren Anderton was getting forward to good advantage, and hit a good cross from the right after 9 minutes. This was half cleared and Keane following up chipped the ball into the area where Anderton had made ground and had a decent shot cleared. Four minutes later Jaaskelainen made a great save from Keane who had been set up by a Poyet header.

So far it had looked as if Spurs only needed to step up a gear and the game would be won, but Bolton came into proceedings with strength. Firstly Nolan turned inside Taricco too easily, but hit a below strength shot to Keller. Then a Davies header was cleared by Doherty only as far as Okocha, whose driven shot rebounded off the bar with Keller beaten all ends up. Okocha's next trick was to run around the midfield, and thread the ball for Giannakopoulos (try saying that after a few beers!) who went to earth in the box with Doherty, without winning the favours of Mr. Rennie.

Mid-way through the first half, Per Frandsen did his flying swan impression in front of Mr. Rennie, as Dean Richards seemed to get in a fair tackle. From the free kick, that man Okocha's shot dipped onto the top of the stanchion behind the bar. Spurs were too often passing the ball into trouble. It has to be said that Konchesky's crosses were once again fodder for the keeper, and that he was guilty as well as Doherty of dodgy passes. Mind you the team was struggling to hold the ball, control it, and find a colleague by now.

After 33 minutes Frandsen stole the ball off King, and after his first effort was blocked, he hit a good low shot inside Keller's right post. The keeper was equal to the shot, and a corner was the result. It was becoming Bolton all the way as Gardner crossed for Giannakopoulos, whose low shot was held by Keller. The home fans booed their team off when the whistle came.

After the break, Postiga replaced Poyet, and Robbie Keane worked behind the two strikers, with Anderton, King, and Konchesky right to left behind Robbie. It was five minutes into the half before Spurs created a chance though. Anderton crossed to Keane, who fed the advancing Taricco, whose shot was a couple of feet over the bar. Then came Doherty's half-way line mess, but thankfully Davies' run into the box resulted in his shot being blocked by a covering defender - possibly Richards.

Okocha had another free kick deflected onto the bar, before Mr. Rennie really started to wind up the home fans (me included) with his "I'm the star of the show" attitude. Jaaskelainen had safely retrieved a through ball, and Stephen Carr's momentum took him into a gentle collision with the keeper, which seemed to be taken in good heart. Not by Mr. Rennie though, as after a noteable pause, he decided it was time he started booking Spurs players. I must admit that Carr probably could have and should have stopped before the collision, but I repeat, it was taken in good heart, and the card seemed unnecessary.

Bobby Zamora did have a decent chance when he turned Charlton inside and out before hitting a shot below full strength to the keeper. Taricco was replaced by Blondel who had to play on the left, whilst Konchesky fell back to Taricco's position. Konchesky was then subject to a blatant bit of shirt tugging as he entered the Bolton area, which was only too obvious to the Spurs fans, but ignored by Rennie, standing yards away.

With 20 minutes left, Giannakopoulos cut in from the left before hitting a great shot that clipped the top of the bar. It didn't look like Kasey had got a touch to this, but the referee was by this stage committed to the Bolton cause, in my opinion. There was delay in taking the corner, which was only half cleared to Okocha, who hit a belter of a low shot that any keeper would have struggled to hold. Kasey was not super-human, and Nolan was there before anyone else to sweep home the winner. With ten minutes to go, Okocha hit the bar again with another shot after a run in from the left side of the field.

Spurs replaced the tiring King with Mabizela, but there were only 5 minutes left on the clock, and now we had that pace I was talking about, sadly it was all too late. Mabizela did hit a great long ball to Robbie on the left, and it was his cross that Postiga tried too casually to back-heel in. In the dying seconds of the game, Jonathan Blondel brought probably Jaaskelainen's best save of the game with a left foot drive. Keller appeared in the Bolton area for the corner, but it was cleared and the whistle brought a crescendo of boos from the home crowd, disappointed at only 1 point from two clearly winnable home games in the last week. Next week's game at Highbury is anything but winnable, and if we lose by only 1 goal, it will be a miracle.

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