Looking Forward



Premier League

Monday 3rd December 2001

Sam Allardyce's boys have done their manager proud and the fact that Bolton stuck with him when it would have been easy to replace him having failed to get promotion, has paid dividends.  He has fashioned a side that has stunned the Premier League by staying in the top half, when everyone thought they would struggle from the off.  That was not so with a 5-0 away win at Leicester City on the opening day and they have gone on from there to beat Liverpool and Manchester United, while drawing at Highbury.

This means that Tottenham should not take them lightly.  With few recognised star names in the side, Jussi Jaaskelainen is there main man between the sticks and has proved a capable keeper, who has frustrated a few Premiership strikers already this season.  In reserve is Steve Banks, who has been around (Blackpool, Gillingham, etc), but can provide good back-up for the first choice keeper.

One familiar name to all Spurs fans will leap out of the Trotters defence.  Gudni Bergsson has been playing out of his skin at the Reebok (and elsewhere) since he left Tottenham in 1995 for just 65,000.  He has revelled in his role as sweeper, where he rarely got played at Spurs and has also scored a number of important goals.  He will be determined to show Tottenham what we have missed, especially as this is his last season before returning to Iceland to complete his legal studies.  He has been partnered by Bruno N'Gotty, who has come in on a season's loan from  Marseilles, while other players who might feature include the old Scots warhorse Colin Hendry, former Charlton full back Anthony Barness and ex-Leicester hard man Mike Whitlow.  More likely to play is former Southampton and Huddersfield defender Simon Charlton, who tries to get forward and whip in some crosses.  Djibril Diawara has been brought in on loan too from Torino, but he may be in contention to be playing after seeing out a ban when he was sent off .  

The midfield part of the team contains Gareth Farrelly, the former Everton man, who has been a fixture in the side providing the battle in that area, while Per Frandsen produces some of the guile and expertise from free-kicks.  The wide players are Farrelly and Jamaican international Ricardo Gardner, who has pace and skill and could cause any Premiership side problems.  He can be a cool finisher, who always looks to get into the box.  Having left Bolton only to return some years later, Paul Warhurst is still running the midfield, providing some of the beef, as he often picks up yellow cards, although too many for the FA's liking and he will be suspended for this match.  In contrast to the aged members of the midfield, Kevin Nolan has been a fresh breath of air in the Bolton side.  He is rangy and has a good perception of when to make his runs into the box, but can get on the end of moves regularly.  One to watch for the future definitely, as his goal against Man U showed.

In the striking department Dane Bo Hansen has been ousted from the side by the star name of Michael Ricketts, who previously had made his name as a scoring super-sub, but now fulfils that role from the start.  He's strong like Heskey, but has the innate knack of knowing where the goal is when he comes to getting his shot off.  If he continues to develop at a steady rate, he will be frightening.  Which is something you could also say about Dean Holdsworth.  The former Wimbledon forward must be ready to step down after all these years.  He keeps going though and still gets the same thrill from scoring, so will need to be shackled if he does feature.  He often plays a part of the game either as a sub or starting, but not finishing.  New signing Akinori Nishizawa is a mystery and I am not sure if he will be in the sixteen chosen for the match, although another old-timer - Rod Wallace - probably will.  Still reasonably nippy, he might find the going tougher in the Premiership South of the Border.  Another Dane, Henrik Pedersen, has the number nine shirt, but he does not get much of a look-in these days - mainly because he is out with a stomach injury until Christmas.

With both clubs involved in Worthington Cup action this week, there will not be much time to recover for Monday's game, although that is better than playing on the Saturday I suppose.  With a good home record, but with Bolton doing well on the road, this could be tight and therefore, I go for ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham  2   Bolton Wanderers  1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.



Tottenham  3   Bolton Wanderers   2                                 (Half time score: 0- 1)
Monday 3rd December 2001
Kick Off : 8.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Chilly, dry.
Crowd : -   32,971
Referee : -   Mr. P. Durkin (Poole)

Scorers : -  Tottenham   -   Poyet 47, Ferdinand 48, Sheringham 86
                  Bolton Wanderers  -  Ricketts 7, Wallace 56


Spurs :  None

Bolton Wanderers :   Nolan (foul) 33, Ricketts (unsporting behaciour) 41


Spurs :  Sullivan; Davies, Richards, Perry (Bunjevcevic 45), King, Ziege; Poyet, Anderton, Freund (Ferdinand 45); Rebrov (Leonhardsen 88), Sheringham
Unused Subs : - Beasant, Thatcher, 

Bolton Wanderers : Jaaskelainen; N'Gotty,  Whitlow, Bergsson, Charlton; Gardner (Johnson 87), Nolan, Farrelly (Hansen 87), Frandsen; Wallace, Ricketts (Holdsworth 74)
Unused Subs : - Poole, Southall

With the amount of possession that Tottenham had, it might have seemed like a training exercise in how to break down massed defences, but this was for real and it was only when a tactical switch was made tat it all came right.

With Bolton having taken an early lead, Tottenham were spreading the ball across the park from player to player, but making no real inroads into the Bolton defensive ranks.  The lack of penetration limited Spurs to two chances in the half.

The first came form the back-pass that Gudni Bergsson put towards his keeper, but also towards the goal.  It was fortunate for Jaaskelainen that the ball edged past the post for a corner.  However, five minutes later and a ball up to Ian Nolan saw it arrive behind him, but improvising, he back-heeled it into the centre of the field where it found Michael Ricketts.  The young striker took a touch on the edge of the box and shaped to shoot.  Ledley turned his back to block it, but the shimmy took Ricketts into a yard of space and he drilled a low drive through Richards and past Sully.  It was a well taken goal and one which Spurs contrived to give away by not closing down or making Ricketts do the hard work with.  The shooting star of Bolton then proceeded to blot his copybook with a moaning, petulant display that earned him a booking and a substitution in the second half.  He needs to channel his energies or he might end up like Heskey (oh, no ... one is enough).

Tottenham almost got back into the match when Gus was fouled late on the edge of the area to the right hand side and Ziege hit a well-directed free kick that the Wanderers keeper did marvellously to palm away as it headed for the bottom left corner.

The remainder of the half was spent with Bolton pegged back (apart from one effort by Wallace, that did not really test Sullivan) and Spurs given plenty of opportunity to practice their passing game.

Half-time saw Gorman come out with the fitness coach to warm up Les and Bunjy.  It was a little worrying when Glenn joined them to bring his team talk onto the pitch, something I had not seen before.  Who was doing the talk to the other members of the team ?  Chrissy Hughton I suppose.

Anyway, replacing Perry and Freund was a brave move as both had been doing well enough, but the switch paid off almost straight away.  A long ball from Anderton to Les' head saw his looping header hit the post and it looked like it just wasn't going to be our day.  However, the ball bounced up off Whitlow (who was to be the prime mover in his side's downfall), hit the bar and as it came down with the keeper unsure of where it was, Gus ploughed in to head home. It was a brave header after his knock-out at West Ham, but in a way, he deserved it as he was always available for the ball to come to him and he was working hard in midfield to make something happen.

Almost without a break, Bolton pressed forward and as Ricketts fell in the box under challenge from a back-tracking Teddy Sheringham, we held our breath while little ginger ref, Paul Durkin ran towards the action.  This time he didn't blow his whistle and waved play on while we all screamed for Ricketts to get a second yellow for diving and then a red.  The ball came out of the Spurs area and a neat interchange between Sergei and Bunjy and then a square pass along the face of the penalty box to Les saw the veteran striker bury his shot past Jaaskelainen into the bottom corner.  It was a stunning turnaround.

But with all things Tottenham Hotspur, you should know better than to start celebrating too early.  A move ten minutes later down the Spurs left found Rod Wallace running at Ledley King in the box. He seemed to be going nowhere, but Ledley had not closed his shot off and he drove low and although Sullivan got a hand to the ball, he should have done better to keep out the equaliser.  In fact, things might have got worse, when Bunjy missed a through ball in the centre circle and Dean Holdsworth took the ball on towards Sully, who stood between him and a goal.  The Trotters' striker had not banked on the recovery speed of our own Deano, who robbed him of the opportunity before he could get his shot away, with a perfectly timed tackle.  It was the turning point of the game, as within a minute or so, Simon Davies was running at Whitlow on the Spurs right flank.  He had gained little joy out of Simon Charlton, but this time he kept going to the byline, where, going nowhere, the Bolton "hard man" shoved him over conceding a free kick in the process.  He gave Davies some verbal for apparently diving !! This was water of a duck's back as Bolton (with Nolan a particular culprit, who could have got a second caution for whinging) had been going on all game.

Christian Ziege traipsed over from his left wing back position to put in a free-kick with pace at about five feet off the floor.  It was met by Sheringham with his head and because of the power in the free-kick itself, he only had to direct it towards goal and the pace did the rest.  The ball flew into the goal and Spurs had grabbed a 86th minute goal.  There was little chance for Bolton to get back into the match and even though there were four minutes added, they passed relatively uneventfully, apart from Les being left injured on the ground at the final whistle and receiving attention from the Tottenham physio while the stadium emptied.

Leds had a bit of a mare and Deano's distribution was wayward to say the least.  The midfield worked hard, but Darren Anderton was the top man. I bet he has never had so much of the football in a game and although not everything he tried came off, he did show a bit of quality that Spurs needed to break through.

It was a hard game against a well drilled and organised Bolton side, who play to a very successful plan.  Their breaks will test all the sides in the Premiership and they have some skillful players, who pass and move well.  On the night, they were undone by one masterstroke and one or two old masters.






Within ten minutes of scoring their opening goal, Bolton perpetrated an incident that summed up how they were going to play.  The ball went off for a Tottenham throw-in and ran towards the Bolton dug-out.  Coach Phil Brown, who spent the whole game on his feet in the technical area, let the ball go through his legs as Perry approached to get it. It was then picked up by one of the Wanderers subs, who was leaning over the dug-out wall.  When Chris stretched out his arms to receive the ball, the sub threw it in the opposite direction.

Technically, if Mr. Durkin had seen this (of which there was no great hope as he missed a lot of things all night), he could have administered a yellow in the direction of the bench.  What it did indicate was that the visitors intended to hang on to what they had - a one goal lead from the boot of their top prospect Michael Ricketts.  He took the goal very well and for a youngster looks a real handful, but more importantly for him, he has learned how to con referees ... luckily not all the time. His fall in the box with Sheringham alongside him was not enough to fool Durkin, although I have heard that Ted had a handful of his shirt.  The fact that he made the most of it might have dissuaded the official from giving the kick which might have won them the game.  What did happen was that Spurs went straight down the other end to score and make it 2-1.

Within a couple of minutes of the kick off one of our oldies nearly got us off to a flying start.  No, not Les, Gus or Ted, but Gudni Bergsson, who neatly slotted past his own keeper, missing the post by inches !!  The same period past the half-time break saw Dazza slide a diagonal cross onto Les' bonce, which bounced off the bar, Whitlow's chest, the bar and Gus' head before going in for the equaliser.  This goal looked like Les returning the compliment for his West Ham goal by  setting up Gus to score this time.

The second was even better.  Breaking away from the Ricketts "penalty" claim, a neat passing move cut through the middle of the Bolton side and left Les with a straightforward chance to stick away.  He took it well and the confidence of a few goals is now clear in his penalty area play.  The changes at half-time produced options in bringing the ball forward offered by Bunjy and Les' aerial ability up front.  Both were exemplary in the two goals that gave Tottenham the lead.

For a while it looked like Spurs would go on to a good win, but a slipshod piece of defending by King let Wallace squeeze his shot past Sullivan, who got a hand to it, but was not up to keeping it out.  It was another example of a goal given away and one that could have been costly.  Thanks to the long leg of Dean Richards, it wasn't.  He took the ball off Holdsworth's toe as he was about to slot it past Sullivan, after Goran had missed an attempted chest down to leave the former Dons striker in on goal.

Like the penalty that never was, Spurs went up the other end and scored.  Christian Ziege put in a wicked, whipped free kick and Teddy did what Teddy does and got his head in the right place at the right time to score the winner.  It was classic Sheringham.

This was not the fluent Tottenham we have seen in other games this season, but they were well worth their win, because Bolton didn't want it enough. They have a good side and talented players like Ricketts (despite his failings and fallings) and Gardner, who is an excellent dribbler.  But they seemed content to sit back and try and hit on the break rather than use the impetus they had to go forward to get more goals.

For Tottenham, there were some shaky showings, but generally, they battled against a determined Bolton side and got the better of them as they kept going forward.  On the night Spurs took the points and it will be interesting to see how what went on tonight affects next week's Cup tie against the Trotters.



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