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Bolton v Spurs, 06.11.10

(12.45 p.m.)

Bolton scorers:-
Davies, 31, 76 (pen)
Steinsson, 56
Petrov, 90+4

Spurs scorers:-
Hutton, 79
Pavlyuchenko, 87

Attendance:- 20,255

Referee:- Mr. C. Foy
Assistants:- Andy Garratt, Bob Pollock
Fourth Official:- Tony Bates

Bolton (4-4-1-1):- Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Robinson; Lee, Holden, Muamba, Taylor (sub Petrov, 82); Elmander (sub M. Davies, 90+4); K. Davies (Capt.)(sub Blake 90+6)

Subs not used:- Bogdan; Ricketts; Moreno, Klasnic

Booked:- Robinson (foul on Sandro)

Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Gomes; Hutton, Gallas, Kaboul, Ekotto; Kranjcar (sub Bentley, 78), Palacios (sub Pavlyuchenko, 46), Sandro (sub Huddlestone, 62), Bale; Modric (Capt.); Crouch

Subs not used:- Cudicini; Corluka, Bassong; Jenas

No bookings

Back down with a thump (four in fact)

It’s hard to be enthusiastic about writing this report. I said before the game that I was concerned about Harry Redknapp’s wholesale changes in midfield, where three of the personnel differed from Tuesday night’s glorious victory over the Champions of Europe. There had to be changes for the injured Van der Vaart and Lennon (I bet they feature at home on Tuesday), but Tom Huddlestone was also kept on the bench, and Palacios and the rarely used Sandro took on the central midfield berths. There was an even rarer appearance by Niko Kranjcar, who actually made his first start of the season for Tottenham. Sadly, Kranjcar did not take the opportunity to shine and was arguably the most disappointing of our players.

The prolonged absence of other key players such as Ledley King and Michael Dawson perhaps meant that the tired legs of Gallas and Kaboul had to try and hold the fort in an unchanged back four. Mind you, Bassong was unused on the bench, and Vedran Corluka made a return - at least to the bench.

Bolton don’t often score four goals against any team, and the last time they scored four or more against Spurs was in November 1996 when they trounced us 6-1 in the Coca-Cola Cup. You have to go back 8 months earlier to find the last league win by Spurs at Bolton, and the record of never yet winning a league match at The Reebock stands, only to be further discussed the next time we all make the trip to this northern outpost. The presence of television cameras must have had some influence upon the relatively poor home crowd, as little over 20,000 turned up for the lunch-time kick-off. Maybe they know what they’re missing, because for the majority of the game, the quality of the football was poor, but Spurs have to take plenty of blame for that.

Bolton started with top scorer Elmander playing behind Davies, whilst Modric played behind Crouch. In the early stages, Luka seemed to be even further behind Crouch than his midfield, which of course left the striker isolated for too much of the time. Not that Spurs even got out of their own half in the early stages, as Bolton were allowed to come forward at will. You’d have thought that with both Palacios and Sandro starting, one or both of them would see yellow before long, but in fact Spurs did not get one yellow card. Referee Chris Foy wanted to allow the game to flow, but was really lenient towards the home side, especially when Kevin Davies went in heavily upon Bale after he had put his side one up with an offside goal.

Bolton were of course fresh, and had clearly been well inspired by manager Owen Coyle. It looks as if the club had sponsored some banners across one of the stands sporting Coyle’s name, and it sounded like the club was assisting the home atmosphere at times with some tannoy assisted chanting and drumming, coming from nowhere near the usual vocal home support, whose best offering was “You never win at The Reebock” (True of course except for the Carling Cup in 2004).

Bolton looked threatening from the outset, and Matty Taylor had an early chance which he thankfully skied, as Spurs afforded him loads of space after losing possession. Spurs’ best offering in the early stages was a well taken free kick by Kaboul, sent down the left channel for Bale. Bale passed back to Ekotto, who made a good pass to Modric. Luka hit a pass to the back of the area, where Sandro hit a shot miles wide. There were to be no heroics from Bale today, as he was quite well policed by Steinsson, assisted by Lee.

Bolton took a 31st minute lead, after Sandro got caught in possession and the ball was fed back from Bolton’s left. TV replays have established that Davies was offside, but he got the benefit of the doubt as he fired low to the left of Gomes. Gomes did get a touch, but the ball went in the net off the post.

Hutton made a good run from the right to the middle of the field and teed up Modric, whose shot was wide. Spurs had a good move after 38 minutes. Modric gave Bale a run and Crouch could not quite meet the cross of the Spurs hero of the week. Gallas then made a foray forward and received a ball from Modric before hitting a shot that Jaaskelainen could only parry. Unfortunately the ball did not quite land right for the advance of Peter Crouch. Kaboul had a chance after a Bale corner, but his shot was well wide and over. A one goal deficit at half-time certainly looked more manageable at half-time than that facing the coalition government, but it wasn’t to work out that way.

Palacios was replaced at half-time by Pavlyuchenko, as Spurs reverted to a 4-4-2, with Modric retreating to central midfield. Robinson got the one yellow card of the game for a foul on Sandro as he got forward, and Bale’s free kick went out of play off the outside of the post. At the other end, Gomes was out sharply and saved well with his feet from Elmander, before Bolton increased their lead. The ball had been fed in from the right and right back Steinsson found himself outside the box where he hit a convincing low shot with his right foot across Gomes and into the net.

Sandro got forward again and after an exchange with Hutton had a chance at the near post, which was cleared. The Brazilian youngster was soon to be replaced by Tom Huddlestone, whose first action of note was to feed the ball to Bale, whose cross was too hard for Crouch to reach. Crouch headed a ball down for Pavlyuchenko, who passed to Kranjcar, but the shot was miles over the target. The game was opening out now, and Muamba was getting forward adding to the pressure on the Spurs defence. Taylor had a decent shot just outside the post, and Muamba also had an effort pass wide.

Disaster struck Spurs when Gallas attempted a clearance, but his ball was neither that or a pass to a team-mate. Instead the ball fell to Bolton feet and was sent into the area where Lee was confronted by Ekotto, who was seen to push the winger to the floor, leading to a penalty which Davies happily converted.

Now Bentley also made a rare appearance, replacing Kranjcar, but it was his right back, Hutton who made a terrific advance upon goal, curling home his second goal for the club and of the season with a fine left foot shot. Bentley did hit a good cross that beat the Bolton defence, and also the 4 Spurs shirts that were in the vicinity. Spurs gave their fans hope with three minutes to go when Bale hit a free kick to the back post, where Pavlyuchenko showed great skill in bringing down the ball, and controlling it, before firing past Jaaskelainen with power, hitting the net at the far post.

There was 4 minutes added time, but Spurs did not see too much of the possession with Bolton making two substitutions in this period. After Gallas lost the ball as he broke forward into the Bolton half, the home side responded with speed and restored their two goal lead when Davies sent substitute Martin Petrov clear, and the 31 year old Bulgarian planted the ball beyond Gomes.

With this win, Bolton climbed above Spurs, whose chances of qualifying for next year’s Champions’ League took a severe blow. At the time of writing there are only three points between the teams in 5th and 16th place in the Premier League. Two wins in their next two home games against Sunderland and Blackburn would restore some faith in Spurs chances, but will they be able to do that? We’ll just have to see!

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