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Bolton v Spurs, 03.10.09

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 3RD OCTOBER, 2009
BOLTON WANDERERS 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)

Bolton scorers:-
Gardner, 4
Davies, 69

Spurs scorers:-
Kranjcar, 34
Corluka, 73

Referee: - Mr. M. Jones

Attendance: - 21,305

Teams:-
Bolton (4-3-2-1):- Jaaskelainen; Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Samuel; Gardner, Muamba (sub McCann, 74), Cohen; Lee (sub Klasnic, 87), Taylor (sub M. Davies, 81); K. Davies (Capt.)

Subs not used: - Al Habsi; Robinson, Shittu; Steinsson

Booked: - Cohen, Muamba

Spurs (4-4-2):- Cudicini; Corluka, Huddlestone, Bassong, Ekotto; Lennon, Palacios, Jenas, Kranjcar; Crouch, Keane (Capt.) (sub Defoe, 67)
(Armband to Jenas)
Subs not used: - Gomes; Hutton, Naughton, Dawson; Bale, Bentley

Booked: - Jenas, Corluka

Saved by the Croats!

Spurs will have to wait another year for an attempt to end the hoodoo of failure to win a league game at The Reebock, but having fallen behind twice, they have to be thankful to their two Croatians – Niko Kranjcar and Vedran Corluka – both of whom scored their first goals for the club in the Premier League today. The game was played in windy and blustery conditions, and to be honest lacked structure and finesse. Either side could have won the game, which was in effect a game of two halves, and a draw is probably a fair result, although a disappointment for the massive army of Spurs fans who did their best to fill the Bolton ground, which still had plenty of empty seats.

Harry Redknapp (about whom there had been wild speculation on the preceding day) made just one change, with Peter Crouch replacing Jermain Defoe, who was the one used substitute after 67 minutes. Spurs looked more likely to score with Defoe on the pitch. Crouch had a shot that bounced up onto the bar and rebounded back into play, and Defoe had more than one decent chance to score. Four-goal Robbie Keane had little impact on this game.

Bolton played with skipper Kevin Davies up front, supported by South Korean International Chung-Yong Lee, and one of Harry Redknapp’s former Portsmouth players – Matty Taylor. With Taylor and lee falling back at times to form a five-man midfield, the Spurs four were too often swamped and failed to get a grip on the game. Robbie Gardner and Tamir Cohen were effective, whilst former Arsenal junior Fabrice Muamba patrolled the back of the midfield. Centre back Gary Cahill (one of Bolton’s former Villa contingent) is apparently coveted by Sir Alex Ferguson, and he and Zat Knight kept Keane and Crouch at bay for most of the first half.

The emergency Spurs pairing of Tom Huddlestone and Sebastien Bassong did not really work today. There was a lack of communication between these defenders and the goalkeeper, who again failed to convince me that he is a better option than Gomes, who surely would have prevented one or both the Bolton goals. We must look forward to the return of the Brazilian and a return to fitness of king, Woodgate and Dawson, who one assumes was on the bench as he is not yet fully fit.

Spurs were on the back foot from the start, and they had an early set-back, after Corluka conceded a throw in, taken long from which Lee fired a shot at Cudicini, which was parried but which fell to the feet of Gardner who did not fail to score from close range. It was not the start we wanted. Spurs continued to suffer pressure, as they struggled to string passes together and to even get possession. Gardner had another chance after 13 minutes, when a Cohen ball rebounded in favour of Gardner off Bassong. Cudicini saved this one.

Jenas had a fairly bright first half and after 21 minutes fed Palacios who sent a good ball down the channel just too far ahead of Robbie Keane. After some good build-up play from Spurs, Jenas passed well to Kranjcar whose shot was deflected for a corner. Cohen took a booking for a foul on Palacios, who became the creator for Spurs equaliser in the 34th minute, with a good ball that Crouch headed down into the path of Kranjcar who fired home from 20 yards with a shot that curled slightly past Jaaskelainen.

Davies got the better physically of Huddlestone when challenging for a long ball, but could only hit a weak shot, that didn’t even reach the goal-line. Bolton then had an excellent chance when Cohen flicked a pass forward and Lee fired over from close range.

After 54 minutes a poor ball from Corluka was retrieved by Crouch, who fed the advancing Lennon. Lennon cut the ball back for Palacios, whose shot was wide. Crouch then had a decent effort, demonstrating control before firing just over the corner of the goal, after a second throw by Corluka from the right. Corluka again demonstrated skill on the right, before passing to Crouch who again showed his ability to control the ball at close hand. Crouch teed up Jenas, but he lost his form in the second half, and fired wide on this occasion.

Robbie Keane was replaced by Defoe, who was not wearing much evidence of a dressing for any fracture to his hand. However, Bolton regained the lead after Cohen chipped a fine cross over Cudicini and Davies rose to head home from the back post.

Spurs tried to come back immediately when Defoe hit a shot that Jaaskelainen parried into the direction of Crouch, but Crouch could not convert. This was the shot that bounced down and up off the bar. The equaliser did come though from a deep corner by Kranjcar which Corluka rose to head home convincingly at the back post. At the other end, Cudicini had to save from Matty Taylor, following a Bolton free kick. The Defoe – Crouch combination nearly worked again for Spurs, as Jermain passed, and Crouch controlled before his shot was pushed round for a corner. Defoe’s best chance came after a Jenas pass, but he fired quite abysmally wide.

Spurs moved up to third place with this point, but there are a number of games yet to be played this week-end. We now have a two week break before travelling to the other end of the country to face Harry’s old team who managed their first win of the season today. What with the arrests which followed last year’s game, there should be an interesting atmosphere to say the least!

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