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Bolton v Spurs, 23.09.07


Bolton scorer:-
Campo, 39

Spurs scorer:-
Keane, 34

Referee: - Mr. A. Marriner

Attendance: - 20,308

Bolton (4-1-2-2-1):- Jaaskelainen; J. O’Brien, A. O’Brien, Meite, Gardner; Campo; Nolan (Capt) (sub Alonso, 70), Speed; Davies, Diouf (sub Wilhelmsson, 77); Anelka

Subs not used: - Ali Al Habsi; Hunt; Braaten

No bookings

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, Rocha, Ekotto; Tainio (sub Lennon, 79), Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque; Berbatov (sub Bent, 72), Keane (Capt.)

Subs not used: - Cerny; Lee; Huddlestone

Booked: - Ekotto, Rocha

Uninspiring Spurs Bottom Three for 125th Birthday

In a week when Jermain Defoe had dazzled Spurs fans with his spectacular brace against Anorthosis Famagusta, and when Aaron Lennon had made a welcome impressive 90 minute return, under-pressure Martin Jol chose to leave Defoe in London and Lennon on the bench, choosing the same midfield that had so failed to impress on the opening day at Sunderland. There will be a ceremony today (Monday 24th September) in Dover to officially mark the grave of Spurs founder John Ripsher, who died 100 years ago a pauper, and whose grave had been un-marked until now. It is a great pity that this ceremony and the forthcoming celebrations of the 125th anniversary of the club we so love will be undermined by the sad appearance of Spurs in the bottom three. Indeed with Bolton playing at Derby next Saturday, Spurs could easily be 19th in the table by the time they face Aston Villa next Monday night.

I heard on the way up that both Paul Robinson and Younes Kaboul faced late fitness tests. Sadly, Robinson passed and Kaboul failed. I say sadly, because Kaboul’s replacement – Rocha was one of those culpable for Ivan Campo being allowed to equalise, and once again Paul Robinson seemed to dither about whether to go for the ball or stay on the line. In the end he did neither and was caught a yard or so off the line and right of centre when Campo headed in on his recall to the Bolton team. Maybe Kaboul would have made the header, and maybe Cerny would have been better positioned.

There was no space then for any of the summer signings in the starting line-up, with Bale Jol’s “number 17” and Bent on the bench. Jol favoured Zokora over Huddlestone, and was rewarded with a rare piece of inspiration by the Ivorian midfielder, who provided the pass for Jenas’s blocked shot that led to our goal.

Jol clearly planned not to lose this game, and will count the result a success. However, this was bottom of the table Bolton we were playing, not one of the top four. I can’t help comparing Jol’s strategy with that of Sir Alex Ferguson. Ferguson would surely have gone for the throat from the outset of this game, and not left out his available flair players such as Ronaldo. Ferguson would not have left it till the 73rd minute to make changes in an effort to win the game. Lennon was the second of the two Spurs substitutions and he didn’t arrive on the scene until just over ten minutes from the end.

Sammy Lee succumbed to pressure and reverted to the old faithful Allardyce formation, and pretty much an Allardyce team, with Campo on station behind Nolan and Speed, and Davies and Diouf on the flanks behind Anelka. Bolton are missing two of their best defenders from last year due to the departures of Ben Haim to Chelsea and Faye to Newcastle.

The one-third empty stadium witnessed a rather lack-lustre game in which the home side rarely bothered the visitors, who sadly played with little or no width, and often relied upon long balls to Berbatov with Keane patrolling behind the Bulgarian. Steed Malbranque was the best of the midfield for me, providing flashes of the inspiration we so desired. His 12th minute ball found Berbatov just inside the box, but Dimitar just could not get his foot on the ball for a decent shot on goal. It was another Malbranque ball that reached Tainio after 17 minutes. Teemu tried a shot from 30 yards that was blazed high and wide.

After 25 minutes, Malbranque’s clever inside pass released Robbie Keane, who crossed to the back post, where Berbatov met it with a first time effort, bringing a good save from Jaaskelainen.

Bolton’s first real threat upon goal came after half an hour, when Rocha got in a great tackle on Anelka, with Robinson giving close attention. Anelka went down but the referee waved away penalty appeals. Incidentally, Mr Marriner seemed to give licence to the physical approach of the home side, which went un-punished whilst Spurs got two bookings for first offences by Ekotto and Rocha.

Spurs took the lead in the 34th minute, thanks to a great chipped pass by Zokora over the defence to the advancing Jenas, whose shot was saved by Jaaskelainen and half-cleared by Campo. Keane followed up, and his shot found the net despite hitting the keeper. Spurs might have increased their lead a couple of minutes later when Keane took a pass from Tainio, went into the box, but his pass to Berbatov was blocked.

Sadly, we failed to hold our lead for long, as Diouf took a free kick from the right, and that man Campo rose to head down and past Robinson’s left hand.

Excitement became a rare commodity in the second half, but it was Spurs who had the best chances to win, with Tainio picking up Jenas’s pass after 52 minutes, seeing his shot saved by the keeper for a corner. Tainio was involved again on the hour, winning a challenge in the middle after an Ekotto foray down the left. Tainio found Malbranque with a good pass, and Steed’s shot was only just over the target in front of the away fans, who at the start of the game had shown support for Jol, but as it progressed let him know in no uncertain terms their thoughts about Defoe and Lennon. Jenas and Malbranque combined in the build up for Spurs last attempt on goal, four minutes before the end, with Keane’s shot being saved by the busy Jaaskelainen.

Hopefully, we’ll see a few more of our flair players on Wednesday night in the Carling Cup tie against Middlesbrough, but it is crucial that we mark our 125th Birthday party next week with three points against Villa, before the difficult trek to Anfield.

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.

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