Monday, October 25, 2004

Match Report - Spurs 1 Bolton 2

Tottenham failed to mark the passing of legendary boss Bill Nicholson in fitting style as they lost 2-1 at home to Bolton.
With the game level, both managers had played their attacking options as they went for broke, with Spurs boss bringing on dropped England striker Jermain Defoe and visiting manager Sam Allardyce putting on Henrik Pedersen.
And it was the Dane who scored the winner for the visitors with his first touch to lift them to fourth in the Premiership.
In a sombre atmosphere at White Hart Lane, both sides were desperate for the points to maintain their impressive starts to the season.
For Bolton, they now reaffirm their place as Barclays Premiership high-flyers, while Spurs missed the chance to join them towards the top of the league.
But the day will be remembered for the death of Nicholson, who guided Spurs to the first league and cup double of the modern era in 1961 with an uncompromising style and dedication to total football.
The current manager Jacques Santini had made his own brave decision before the game by dropping Defoe to the bench.
The 22-year-old striker had not scored in the league for his club side since the fourth game of the season, saving his best form for international duty with England.
The onus was on Robbie Keane and Frederic Kanoute to vindicate Santini's decision, and they combined just before half-time to drag Spurs back into the game.
The visitors had gone ahead in the 10th minute after a defensive blunder followed a Gary Speed free-kick. The ball was curled in from the right, was not dealt with by Spurs goalkeeper Paul Robinson and Radhi Jaidi got in front of Anthony Gardner to head powerfully in from close range.
Spurs looked like they missed the cutting edge of Defoe until a surge in the final 10 minutes of the first half.
Spurred by two long shots, Santini's front pairing - seemingly both behind Defoe in the pecking order - combined to devastating effect.
Defender Noureddine Naybet played the ball into Kanoute's feet and, with his back to goal, the Mali international's flick sent Keane through, and he finished emphatically through the legs of Jussi Jaaskelainen.
It was Keane's first league goal of the season, and reward for his tireless running, and Spurs looked the more threatening team after their equaliser.
Neither side looked like seizing the initiative until Santini made the decision to bring on Defoe - and suddenly the tempo of the game increased notably.
Stelios sent a volley flashing wide before Johnnie Jackson had a meek penalty appeal correctly turned down.
Allardyce responded by bringing on Pedersen and the result was swift and effective. Robinson was forced into two saves in quick succession after drives from Jay-Jay Okocha and Stelios.
But the England number one could do nothing as Pedersen swept in another effort.
Spurs, with three in attack, were soon became frustrated in their search for an equaliser.
Firstly, Kanoute's header from 12 yards out was well directed and had Jaaskelainen beaten - but it flicked off the post and went to safety.
Defoe, given the incentive to shine after being dropped, could do nothing to penetrate Bolton's mean defence, although the striker did have a long-range free-kick curl just wide.
In the final moments Okocha kept the ball to himself as Tottenham desperately wanted possession.
Match report courtesy of Soccernet.com

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