BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 5TH FEBRUARY, 2011
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1) BOLTON WANDERERS 1 (0)
Van der Vaart (pen), 6
Referee:- Mark Clattenburg
Assistants:- Mr. M. Cairns & Mr. M. Yerby
Fourth Official:- Mr. C. Foy
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Corluka, Gallas, Dawson(Capt.), Ekotto; Van der Vaart (sub Pienaar, 46), Palacios (sub Kranjcar, 78), Jenas, Lennon; Defoe, Crouch (sub Pavlyuchenko, 73)
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Hutton, Bassong; Sandro
Bolton (4-4-2):- Jaaskelainen; Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Robinson; Elmander (sub Lee, 68), M. Davies, Holden (sub Muamba, 87), Taylor (sub Petrov, 77); K. Davies (Capt.), Sturridge
Subs not used:- Bogdan; Wheater; Klasnic, Rodrigo
Booked:- Ricketts (foul on Lennon), Cahill (simulation), M. Davies (foul on Jenas)
In the “Niko” time!
Late substitute Niko Kranjcar was the Spurs hero of the hour in the second minute of added time, when he belted home a lay off by Roman Pavlyuchenko that Jaaskelainen failed to hold, to give Spurs another precious three points in their continuing chase for a top four place. Kranjcar has hardly had a look-in for Harry Redknapp this season, with only one Premier League start and 6 league appearances in all. This was his first goal of the season, but Spurs’ fourth last minute league goal, demonstrating a never-say-die attitude. Such is the thin line between success and failure that we are highlighting Kranjcar’s goal, and not another Gomes fumble, or indeed Van der Vaart’s penalty miss after 7 minutes.
With Mark Clattenburg officiating, it seems there is always some sort of drama and controversy in the game, and today was no exception. The referee awarded Spurs two early penalties, and Van der Vaart despatched the first convincingly into Jaaskelainen’s top right corner, as he did the second a minute later. However, Mr. Clattenburg spotted some encroachment and ordered a re-take, which Van der Vaart fired in the same direction, but wide. We thought we had another penalty late in the first half for handball, but the referee spotted a linesman’s flag for offside (still Defoe’s favourite position), and a free kick was awarded to Bolton. Then in the second half, Bolton manager Owen Coyle was aggrieved by the fact that centre-half Gary Cahill was booked for simulation, when he felt (and replays supported him) that Bolton should have been awarded a penalty.
As a result of this win, Spurs now have parity with Bolton in our Premier League head to head history. Historically, the “Trotters” have been more of a thorn in our side than their position has usually warranted, but these days, it is a different Bolton that plays an attacking game, and one that is capable of stout defence, and a decent passing game. Such was the style that Coyle’s side demonstrated today, with Chelsea loanee Daniel Sturridge up front beside skipper Kevin Davies, and Davies’ usual strike partner Johan Elmander playing up and down the right wing. Centre back Gary Cahill (called up once again by Fabio Capello) was in good form, only to blot his copy book, with the wayward clearance that led to the Spurs winner. In the middle, Stuart Holden and Mark Davies offered strong competition to the Spurs pairing of Jenas and Palacios. Those Spurs fans who were frustrated at their team’s inability to dominate these visitors would do well to remember that they did offer some good football in what was an end to end and open game.
The only change that Harry Redknapp made to the Spurs starting line-up was the return of skipper Michael Dawson for Bassong, who sat on a stronger Spurs bench, with Hutton and Pienaar both returning.
There was a full house for the game, made possible by the fact that Bolton occupied just three “wedges” of the upper tier, and that Spurs sold the additional tickets available. Those Bolton fans present though were an enthusiastic bunch, and their team is in the chase for a possible Europa league spot, assuming that top four teams win one or both of the domestic cups. Spurs look to have secured fifth place, if they do fail to make it to the top four this term.
It was a day of high drama and high scoring in the Premier League with 41 goals scored in all 8 games played. There was no shortage of drama in the early stages of our game, as Spurs made a bright start and after a Van der Vaart free kick and a goal-mouth scramble, the referee penalised Kevin Davies for handball as a Spurs close range shot was goalward. This was Van der Vaart’s moment as he nearly burst the back of Jaaskelainen’s net in front of the exuberant South Stand fans. Straight from the kick off, Defoe sent Lennon away on a run down the left channel, and as he got into the area and headed left to right, he was fouled by Ricketts, who got booked for his trouble, conceding a second penalty. However, after the drama of a re-take and that miss, the score remained at 1-0, and we wondered if Spurs would “pay the penalty” for such profligacy.
Once again, Aaron Lennon was playing down the left flank. After 14 minutes he was in position for a right foot shot on goal that passed just outside the post. Four minutes later Crouch gathered Corluka’s cross, and was goalside of the defence with the goal beckoning. However, he took a touch too many and allowed the ball to be cleared. Bolton hit the bar after 20 minutes, and Gomes possibly got a fingertip to the header that came from a Bolton corner on the left. Minutes later, after a Spurs attack broke down, Bolton responded and Sturridge had a decent right footed effort.
Defoe had the ball in the net after 28 minutes after good work by Ekotto and Van der Vaart, but he was – offside! Left back Paul Robinson, once of West Brom, was the subject of “words” by the referee after a foul on Lennon. Crouch had another chance in front of goal after Ekotto, Defoe and Van der Vaart has provided the build-up, but again Crouch needed a touch too many and the ball was cleared. Palacios had a crack with his right foot, but Jaaskelainen was equal to the shot. The Bolton keeper also dealt comfortably with Van der Vaart’s free kick after a foul on Defoe, before the was it – wasn’t it? Drama of another possible penalty as half-time loomed.
Van der Vaart did not appear after the interval, and he presumably felt a twinge, deciding he couldn’t carry on. Pienaar made his home debut, and had a good impact in my opinion. Lennon moved to his natural right and Pienaar offered some probing football down the left flank, often sending the strikers away with good passes. Their trouble was that they came up against the solid wall of Cahill and Zat Knight.
Jenas sent Defoe away with a neat ball, and Jermain got in an early shot that was wide. Crouch got on the end of a Pienaar corner and Defoe nearly turned in the chance but another corner ensued.
Spurs were caught out in the 55th minute when Mark Davies broke through the middle and found Sturridge in space on the right. Sturridge hit a well-placed shot that Gomes got a hand to, and should have stopped, but the ball crept into the net for Sturridge’s second goal in his first two games for his new side. More drama followed with the alleged dive by Cahill, resulting in a yellow card and no penalty.
Crouch, Jenas, Pienaar and Defoe were all involved in a good move which ended in a wide shot by Defoe after 58 minutes. The frustration was getting greater for home fans. Jenas was fouled by Mark Davies, who also saw yellow. Jenas stepped free kick and walloped the goalkeeper’s left post with the shot. A few minutes later, Jenas might have been lucky to see only yellow after he nearly took out two Bolton players in one foul swoop and challenge!
A raft of substitutions took place. Lee replaced Elmander, and Pavlyuchenko replaced Crouch. Matty Taylor was replaced by Martin Petrov, and Niko Kranjcar took over from Palacios, indicating a Spurs desire to “go for it”! However, Spurs were hamstring for a little while, as Aaron Lennon was hobbling with all three substitutions made. It was a good job he ran off his knock, because he was to be instrumental in the late winner. Cahill had been playing so well, but let himself down with that wayward clearance which fell at the feet of Lennon who at this moment was back on the left side. Lennon crossed the ball short inside and Pavlyuchenko just managed to get the whisker of a touch that just managed to reach Kranjcar. The Croatian International jinked a little to his left to make enough room for a great left footed drive that Jaaskelainen failed to hold with his left hand. The ball hit the net in front of the Paxton Road Stand, and the crowd made more noise than it had a minute earlier as they had hailed to Newcastle come-back from four goals down against the gooners.
It was game, set and match to Spurs, and a seven point gap between fifth and sixth places. We are level on points with Chelsea and we can afford to root for Liverpool at Stamford Bridge later today, although a win for the scousers would reduce our lead over sixth to 6 points.
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