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Harry Hotspur's Tribute Pages to the late great Bill Nicholson

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Match Reports
Spurs v Bolton, 23.10.04

FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 23RD OCTOBER, 2004
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1) BOLTON WANDERERS 2 (1)

Spurs scorer:-
Keane, 41

Bolton scorers:-
Jaidi, 11
Pedersen, 74

Referee:- Mr. C. Foy

Attendance:- 36,025

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Pamarot, Naybet, King, Gardner; Davies (sub Ziegler, 79), Redknapp (Capt.) (sub Davis, 77), Mendes, Jackson (sub Defoe, 70); Kanoute, Keane

Subs not used:- Keller; Brown

No Bookings

Bolton (4-1-2-3):- Jaaskelainen; Hunt, Jaidi, N'Gotty, Gardner; Speed; Nolan (sub Pedersen, 71), Okocha (Capt.); Diouf (sub Hierro, 80), Davies, Stelios

Subs not used:- Poole; Fadiga; Ferdinand

No bookings

(For the benefit of the archives, this match took place on the day that the sad passing of Spurs Legend Bill Nicholson was announced.)

It was appropriate really that on this saddest of Tottenham days, Spurs should be facing Bolton Wanderers. Bolton after all, are a traditional footballing name, and that alone makes you hark back to some of the Glory Days of Bill Nicholson. Bolton's most famous of sons, Nat Lofthouse belongs to the Nicholson era, and Bolton enjoyed many hard-fought meetings with Spurs in the Fifties and the early Sixties.

There was more than a single tear in my eye during the affectionate pre-match tribute played on the Jumbotron, featuring a beautiful montage of images of Bill's time at White Hart Lane. As the montage ended the whole stadium, including the Bolton fans, stood and applauded the screen and the achievements of this great man. The Spurs contingent broke into chants of "Billy Nick's Blue and White Army", before the teams came out and lined up for an immaculate silence observed by both sets of fans, but also a line-up of Spurs legends such as Tommy Harmer, Mel Hopkins, Martin Chivers, Phil Beal, Martin Peters, Ralph Coates, Pat Jennings, and Paul Gascoigne. This parade of ex-players who either work at The Lane or managed to get there at short notice also included Dennis Bond and John Pratt.

Here I say a heart-felt thank you to the Bolton fans for their respect on a solemn and special occasion.

The football then took a poor second place today, and sadly, the current batch of Tottenham Heroes could not manage a result or even a performance worthy of the great man's memory. We knew that Bolton would give us a hard game, and they won the game with credit, and a display that means the League Table does not belie their ability and status. Bolton's current situation is very much down to the talents of Sam Allardyce, who has this week signed a five year contract, and has assembled a veritable array of talent, and tactics to grace the Premiership.

Despite missing Ivan Campo, the Trotters played in an original formation, that Spurs never managed to counter, let alone conquer. By my reckoning, Gary Speed took up the Campo role in front of the back four, which these days includes Ricardo Gardner, formerly a left-winger. Nolan and Okocha played in front of Speed, and were flanked by Diouf on the right and Stelios on the left, with Kevin Davies the front man. Diouf and Stelios played attacking roles, and for much of the first half, the visitors dominated possession and kept Spurs on the back foot.

Jacques Santini rested Jermain Defoe, and played with Keane and Kanoute up front. Jamie Redknapp returned from his one-match suspension, partnering Mendes. Jackson got the nod for left wing, and Gardner carried on at left back. It was great to see that Sean Davis was on the bench, and we must hope he can start next week. We must also hope for the prompt return of Erik Edman, as once again Anthony Gardner demonstrated that he is not much more than an average player, uncomfortable as left back. Gardner did have to make a great saving tackle in the early stages as Diouf advanced upon the Spurs area, but you could argue that he should not have been allowed to get that far in the first place. A long ball dropped at Robbie Keane's feet, but he hit a shot wide of Jaaskelainen's right post. That was all Spurs had to offer for too long in the first half.

Bolton took a cheaply conceded lead in the 11th minute. Jackson may have been harshly penalised for his tackle near the right corner flag, but Gary Speed stepped up to float a free kick that Robinson failed to claim and defender Jaidi nodded in. For all their possession after taking the lead, all Bolton had to show for their efforts was a couple of very wayward shots from Davies and Gardner.

Spurs were failing to impose themselves on their home turf, but they were at least winning more up front, due to Kanoute's presence. Redknapp was presented with a ball by Kanoute in loads of space, but simply wanted too much time on the ball. By the time he thought of shooting the chance had gone. Redknapp did float a 23rd minute free kick that Jaaskelainen failed to hold. Jackson followed up, but the keeper recovered well to block this effort. Kanoute at last got a Spurs shot on target after 32 minutes, but his left footed effort was easily saved by the keeper at the foot of his left post.

With both sides making good use of the offside law, there was little flow to the game, but Spurs did get an equaliser just before the break. Redknapp seemed to want too much time again, but after a long build-up, Spurs switched into gear, and Naybet advanced to receive Mendes ball, pushing it towards Keane, who dummied and ran to a position to receive Kanoute's flick, before hitting a superb shot beneath the keeper to his left.

After the break, there was little incident of note for quite a while. Pamarot was off the field through a head injury for several minutes, and at times Spurs nearly made a hash of things defensively. Their first real threat came after 58 minutes, when they broke from defence. Keane sent Davies away, and the right-winger's ball reached Kanoute inside the area, but Fredi could not get a shot on goal. On the hour, Stelios had a good chance as the ball came from the left to the back post, where he shot wide across Robinson's goal. Kanoute's ball from the right was headed down for Keane by John Jackson, and Robbie Keane was brought down on the very edge of the box. Redknapp's kick was blocked.

Spurs had to defend well against a quick break from Stelios and Diouf, before Jackson was replaced by Defoe to great cheers. Pedersen replaced Nolan and within three minutes he had scored with his first touch, as Robinson made two saves, firstly from Okocha's shot from outside the box, then from a follow-up effort. Robbo could not stop Pedersen sweeping up from close range. Okocha had been allowed far too much room after a corner on the left.

Defoe nearly provided some thrills with a powerful 25 yard free kick just outside the post, and Kanoute did hit a header that glanced the outside of the post, but Bolton played out time efficiently, much to the chagrin of the home crowd, to seal, not steal the points.

I like to think that before he passed on, Bill Nicholson had the comfort of knowing that at last, his beloved Spurs had turned the corner, and were making progress. Whilst we have lost three out of the last four games, I think we are only returning to reality after a dream start with some good fortune, but I do still hold hope of a rise above the current mid-table status under Santini. We also at least have a chance of revenge at The Reebock Stadium in next week's Carling Cup Tie, but Bolton will rightfully be crowing over their fourth consecutive victory over Tottenham.

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