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Bolton v Spurs, 01.02.05

FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
TUESDAY 1ST FEBRUARY, 2005
BOLTON WANDERERS 3 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)

Bolton scorers:-
Diouf (pen), 48
Ben Haim, 87
Davies, 89

Spurs scorer:-
Defoe, 68

Attendance:- 24,780

Referee:- Mike Dean

Teams:-
Bolton (4-1-3-2);- Jaaskelainen; Barness (sub Fadiga, 78), Ben Haim, N'Gotty, Gardner; Campo; Nolan, Stelios (sub Hierro, 89), Speed (Capt.); Diouf, Davies (sub Pedersen, 90)

Subs not used:- Poole; Jaidi

No bookings

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Kelly, King (Capt.), Gardner, Edman (sub Defoe, 64); Davies, Carrick, Brown, Atouba; Keane, Kanoute

Subs not used:- Cerny; Bunjevcevic; Marney; Mido

Booked:- Kanoute, King

Sent off (Second Yellow):- Kanoute

Just when it looked like 10-man Spurs were going to secure a point against a stack of odds weighed against them, schoolboy errors by firstly one of their most highly rated players (Robinson), and secondly a clownish error by Atouba cost Spurs dearly, as Bolton poured on the agony with those two late goals to snatch their fourth successive Premiership win and their fifth successive league win over Spurs, who have now lost three league games on the trot.

Despite the transfer window activity, the Spurs side was almost the same as that which started at West Brom, with the one change - Keane for Defoe, who did make a dramatic entrance from the bench to score an equaliser. Within minutes of that though, Fredi Kanoute was sent off by referee Mike Dean for a second booking, and Spurs were up against it again. New signings Cerny and Mido were on the bench, but we saw nothing of them apart from regular warm-up runs down the touchline.

Spurs played a traditional 4-4-2, but Bolton's formation is not precise, with Diouf given licence to go on the left and right flanks in support of Davies, and Nolan, Stelios and Speed behind him, but in front of Ivan Campo, once again propping the defence. It was a cold and blustery night not conducive to good football, and we got little of it in the first half. The constant Samba drums in one corner of the ground did not relate to the style of play! Spurs did have the better chances in the first half, as Robbie Keane got ahead of the defence to a clearance by Robinson, but then sent a cross harmlessly in front of goal. Then Michael Brown battled away and won the ball from a Bolton defensive throw, sending Kanoute into the box from the left, hitting a good low right foot shot just outside the keeper's right post. Kanoute soon had a better chance from 6 yards when he headed over Carrick's corner which had been well-won by Atouba.

With Spurs defending very well up to this point, it was the visitors who made the more incisive threats. Kanoute had already shown great skill on the ball in the middle, and after 18 minutes made a good shot on the turn from Simon Davies' ball. At last Bolton made their fans cheer, when Speed got some space on the inside right, made it to the edge of the box, but fired yards wide.

Spurs must have played about five minutes with ten men as Anthony Gardner had to receive off-field treatment for a head injury, that even led to the groundsman spreading sawdust over the bloodstained turf at the behest of the referee, who was to become a thorn in Spurs side in the second half. Bolton did have one more chance before the break, when Davies headed over Stelios's corner, when he should have at least made Robinson work.

Within two minutes of the interval, Mike Dean had given Bolton a one-goal start. He must have been the only man in the stadium who saw a handball, as there were no appeals that I saw. Davies had climbed and headed down onto Edman's shoulder, but the referee in his wisdom perceived the event as "hand to ball", when for a start the Spurs players claimed the ball hit the shoulder anyway. Robinson did not help his chances of making a save when he jumped from right to left, and Diouf comfortably shot to the keeper's right, when he was half way to his left post.

Spurs responded well though, and Ledley King got forward to make a good pass to his right for Brown whose powerful right foot shot was tipped over by Jaaskelainen. Campo got a pass from his right, and tested Robinson with a good drive that was parried. Now the game was opening up, and Brown and Davies combined for a shot that Jaaskelainen could not hold, bounced around the area and seemed to get a rebound off a Bolton defender for a corner. By this time, Kanoute and King had already been booked for protests over a claim for handball, ignored by the ref, although I also thought they were upset at a two-footed tackle upon Atouba near the touchline.

Defoe replaced Edman and Atouba took up the left back slot, whilst Spurs adopted almost a 4-3-3 approach. The move paid off after great work from Robbie Keane around the half-way line, collecting Robinson's clearance, then pushing the ball past the defender, battling away and sending an infield pass to Defoe who swiftly turned and fired a shot from over 20 yards that beat Jaaskelainen.

Kanoute's dismissal came after a tackle on Barness, and he did not help matters when in his anger he kicked the fourth official's board, duly noted by Mr. Foy. Hopefully Fredi will only get a one-match ban, but that will be the West Brom replay, I expect. Spurs looked well equipped to deal with their loss, as Keane fell back, and Defoe ran his heart out up front. Stephen Kelly made a few good runs to get in front of Davies, which shows the level of Spurs commitment to get more than just a point. Such adventure inevitably brought danger though, as Stelios fed Nolan, who got behind the defence beating any offside decision, but hitting a poor shot wide of the mark. Another cross from the left fell to Diouf, who fired over from close range.

We were now in the last ten minutes, and Michael Brown led a great break from the back. Robbie Keane passed to Kelly who had made one of those runs, but his attempted pass to Defoe was poor. Now Spurs were made to pay dearly. Diouf's long range shot from the left should have been held by Paul Robinson, but he let the ball bounce under his body, getting a touch and conceding a corner. This was where Kanoute's height in our own area must have been missed as nobody marked Ben Haim, who rose to meet Stelios's corner and headed home for his first Bolton goal.

Thimothee Atouba had already worried us once or twice with his insistence on show-boating in defensive areas, and he totally messed things up at the half way line with most of the team committed to attack. Diouf broke down the right, and sent a great ball behind the defence for Davies to make an easy finish for a 3-1 scoreline that in no way reflects the difference between the sides.

Spurs' great record in the North-west of England this season has come to an end. Despite all the transfer excitement, one fears that this is the greatest distance the team will have to travel for another 18 months in competitive football.

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