Saturday 20th April 2002
start their run in to the end of the season with the first of four games
against London clubs from a fairly safe position. Although only
six points above the relegation zone, they have picked up momentum at
the right time and have looked more likely to stay up than drop straight
back down to the First Division.
Some of this is undoubtedly down to Sam Allardyce's prowess in the transfer market, snapping up former top stars on free transfers or loans to bolster the mainstay of his squad.
There are a number of doubts over the team selection as Wanderers come into this match. Goalkeeper Jaaskalainen, defenders Bergsson and Warhurst, midfielders Tofting, Nolan and Gardner are all doubtful, so a few changes might stretch the resources at the club. Loanee Kostas Konstantinidies is suspended after getting sent off in his second match. With Colin Hendry definitely out of action because of an ankle injury and his wife's serious illness we wish him and his family all our best at this difficult time.
The Finnish goalie Jussi Jaaskalainen has shown that he is a formidable shot stopped, despite letting in 13 goals against us already this season. There are few goalkeepers who look as comfortable when facing with an on-running forward and only his two sending offs and his holding the ball for more than six seconds have blighted his season. Reserve keeper Kevin Poole has been a round for a long time and has been used when the first choice has been out. Another good shot stopper, he can be a little suspect in his positioning on occasion. A transfer deadline day signing from Dallas Burn in the shape of Jeff Cassar, the USA keeper, has added depth of experience with Steve Banks currently plying his trade at Rochdale.
In defence, Bolton has relied on the tried and tested back line of four of the following ... Anthony Barness, Gudni Bergsson, Simon Charlton, Bruno N'Gotty, Mike Whitlow. Bergsson has been rejuvenated in the Premiership this season and is off at the end of the year to return to his legal studies. His current injury makes him doubtful for the game, but he was never properly utilised at White Hart Lane, during his time at Tottenham. Charlton had a long time at Huddersfield and Southampton and is in the twilight of his career, but can get up and down the line to offer attacking options. Barness has dropped a long way since he was a promising Chelsea youngster and has scored twice for Tottenham already this season. Can be caught out for pace and could be one to play on the shoulder of ... if we had any pace upfront that is !! Bruno N'Gotty has impressed in the centre of the defence and is strong in the air and quick across the ground too. Whitlow is nearing the end of the road, but is a tough tackling defender, who sometimes loses his temper far too easily and thus fails to keep his mind on the game.
The midfield area is strong at the Reebok. Youngster Kevin Nolan has proved that he can live at the highest level with his energetic and innovative play. He can also score a cracking goal too. Bringing in Frenchman Youri Djorkaeff has been a boon for the side, as his experience and desire to show the French national coach that he is worth a place in the squad for the World Cup has seen him play very well and grab vital goals. The pacy Jamaican Ricardo Gardner can show a clean pair of heels to most defenders and he has really good dribbling skills, but I don't know too much about Mario Espertero who is on loan from Metz.
Among the midfield workers, Gareth Farrelly tries hard, but in the previous matches against us, he has struggled to impose himself and has been guilty of niggly fouls as he has become frustrated. Dane Per Frandsen can be the motivating factor in the side, because of his passing ability and he can strike a mean free-kick too. Jermaine Johnson is another Reggae Boy who has featured rarely, but is a strong runner with the ball and takes some stopping. Former Gill Nicky Southall works the line and Paul Warhurst can add bite and height in the middle of the pitch. Most interestingly is new signing (another Dane) Stig Tofting, who is a mini battleship of a player, who tackles like a tank and passes like one too !! He might find some players in the Premier League too agile for him.
There are a few nationalities in the forward line at Bolton. German Fredi Bobic is trying to resurrect his career after coming on loan from Borussia Dortmund, while Bo Hansen has been used fairly regularly (mostly from the bench) and only has one goal to his credit. We all know about Dean Holdsworth ... former Womble, likes teenage girls and gets bloody on the pitch too often for my liking. Now looking to maintain his place at Wanderers, his lack of pace among the other strikers may count against him. Hendrik Pedersen has returned to Silkeborg, his old side in Denmark, until the end of the season, leaving the flavour of the season Michael Ricketts and Rod Wallace to fight for the other place alongside Bobic at the moment. Ricketts is so strong and has an innate ability to get the ball into the net form almost any angle, while Wallace still possesses a fair bit of pace and can set up more chances than he might convert these days.
With a haul of three points from their remaining games leaving them safe and Ipswich having to play the top three in their last three matches, there will be some pressure off the Trotters, but they will want to win their home games. Expecting a tough match, especially as they want revenge for the three defeats already this term. Spurs have little to play for and the way they tired against West Ham was worrying, but maybe there will be some spark and I expect goals as neither team is that proficient at keeping a clean sheet ...
PREDICTION : - Bolton Wanderers 2 Tottenham 2
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
|Bolton Wanderers 1 Tottenham 1 (Half time score: 0-1)|
|FA PREMIER LEAGUE|
|Saturday 20th April 2002|
|Venue : Reebok Stadium|
|Kick Off : 3.00 p.m.|
|Weather : - Dry, bright, light cloud|
|Crowd : - 25,817|
|Referee : - Mr. M. Messias (York)|
Scorers : - Bolton Wanderers - Holdsworth
Bolton Wanderers : Whitlow (foul) 12
Tottenham : Iversen (foul) 45, Perry (foul) 62, Gardner (dissent) 88
: Jaaskelainen; N'Gotty, Bergsson, Whitlow, Charlton;
Southall; Frandsen, Nolan, Djorkaeff; Wallace (Ricketts 56), Bobic (Holdsworth
Keller; Perry, Gardner, Thatcher; Taricco, Sherwood, Anderton, Poyet,
Davies; Sheringham, Iversen (Rebrov 46 [Doherty 85])
Bolton Wanderers : White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks
Tottenham : Light Blue shirts, white shorts, navy blue socks
There might be one world class player in the
Bolton side at the moment, but it wasn't Dean Holdsworth, who grabbed an
equaliser for the Trotters in the 70th minute.
But you might hare thought he was, the way Spurs made him look so good. Backing off and then leaving him to nip in while the defence pondered, the former Brentford forward took the chance to give Bolton a precious point. Djorkaeff was the one who had won the World Cup with France, but his contribution was not apparent until his side was on level terms. Content to niggle and give the ball away, he was on the periphery of the game.
Spurs had taken a hold on the game early on, when they struck on the break. Bolton had been peppering the Spurs goal, without troubling Keller, but Poyet's ball over the home central defenders found space for Iversen to run into and he took the ball around the goalie and then guided it into the goal. The record of the Spurs forwards in one-on-one situations is not good (to say the least), but there was enough time and space for Stef to do it on this stage.
The rest of the half was a mixture of knocking the ball around and giving the ball away. Spurs did make the Bolton defence work hard towards the end of the 45 minutes and should have added to their score. Davies had a shot that should have tested the keeper and as the ball flew across the goal there was not a Spurs man to get on the end of it. Even before that, Spurs had the upper hand in the air and free headers were not stuck away, just forcing Jaaskelainen to save them. The Tottenham passing was leading the Wanderers defenders a merry dance and when Southall and N'Gotty bumped into each other they really were seeing stars. Much like Iversen who finished the half with attention for a knock on the head - his second of the half.
That probably explained why he did return for the second period. His replacement Sergei Rebrov later suffered a nasty blow - that of being substituted by Gary Doherty as a forward with five minutes to go. Is this a sure sign he is on his way ?? The move should have resulted in a Spurs winner, but he fumbled his first touch on a flowing move that saw Bolton opened up. As the ball went away from him, he tried to chip the keeper, but drifted the ball wide. Within a minute, the home side had equalised. Thatcher couldn't clear as the ball was played into the box and Holdsworth got Bolton their first non-defeat against us this season, by shooting past Keller. Kasey had not done anything wrong in the whole game, yet ended up without the three points.
Bolton were buoyed by the goal and set about Spurs almost forcing Perry into sliding the ball past Keller and Djorkaeff hit the bar late on from a free-kick. In addition, Tottenham could have gone further ahead when Poyet's early second half efforts went wide.
So in the end a draw was probably the right end result. Another game that turned on Tottenham not capitalising on the chances that came their way, but another that brought into focus the dire need for one player who does nothing but stick the ball in the back of the net. Perhaps Sergei will have a Lazarus like return to form in the summer, forcing Hoddle to play him. But then again, perhaps pig's trotters will become the fast food of choice in the Lane's food outlets !!
|MEHSTG TOP MAN : - TIM SHERWOOD|
|Spurs cannot keep letting chances
to score slip away and thus squander points as they did here by letting
Bolton snatch a point, when the game should have been dead and buried.
The crowd at the Reebok are a funny bunch. From the young girl close to the Spurs fans who was preening herself and smoothing her bosom to the nutter in the Lion suit who seemed to whip the home crowd into a frenzy every time a decision went against them by punching his fists in the air and holding his head. These actions probably help generate the loudest cheers from the Bolton faithful when the linesman flagged and referee whistled for a decision in their favour !!
The stadium is magnificent and although set in a shopping/leisure park, it is easily accessible, but not easily escapable ... it taking quite some time to free ourselves from the car park after the match. The atmosphere was dead a lot of the time and the singing of the Spurs crowd put the home fans to shame. For a club on the brink of relegation, the fans seemed pretty subdued and it was only after the goal that they found their voice.
Having scored 13 goals against Bolton already, Spurs could have added handsomely to that total today, but they were in a generous mood and spared the Trotters on too many occasions, when they could have put the game out of reach. As it was they had to settle for the one goal, created in the eighth minute, by Poyet's astute through ball. Standing alone just inside his own half, Poyet lofted it over the defence, who were static in a line, for Steffen to run past them and face Jaaskelainen. Never the most confident of players in a one-on-one, Iversen looked as though he was going to lob it early over the advancing keeper. Had he done so, there might have been the temptation for the goalie to handle it outside his box. However, Stef decided to take the ball to his left and round the keeper, going a bit wider than he had hoped as he did so, but managed to slip the ball left-footed past the retreating Finn and into the net. The Bolton fans were furious as they howled for offside, but they might as well have been howling at the moon, as it was a well timed run through.
Spurs had to weather some long shots from Bolton. Charlton forced Keller into a sprawling save in the first minute, as did Southall shortly after and following the Spurs goal, the American had to tip over a fierce shot from Frandsen. The ball seemed to be dropping to him every time Spurs cleared, but Tottenham defenders closed him down quickly to make sure that there was no chance of him getting a shot in every time.
There were a few nasty moments. Whitlow hit Iversen from behind in the air and left him clutching his head, for which the Bolton man got a booking and later in the half repeated his treatment on Sheringham, with some added afters while they were on the ground. Unfortunately, the ref was not brave enough to book him again, which is what the ever aggressive defender deserved. Djorkaeff had obviously not been told about Ben Thatcher. Twice within a minute he hit him late and to Ben's credit, he just glared at the Frenchman. However, the Spurs defender was lucky that no-one saw his elbow into Bobic's chest in the box as a ball ran across them. Sherwood was equally lucky to escape without a booking, when his running tussle with Djorkaeff saw him come back onto the pitch after some treatment just as the Frenchman was running towards him. Tim left him on the floor in a heap, but only had a free-kick awarded against him.
In the first half, Bobic was very ineffectual. His passing was awful and he seemed to think the goal was about 20 feet wide. Apart from a few long-range efforts and a series of corners, there was little to trouble Keller, who (unlike Sully) dealt with crosses well, by coming out for them.
Conversely, Tottenham could have added to their total. Sheringham and Poyet both had unmarked headers from corners, but were thwarted by Jussi on the line. The best chance fell to Davies, when the ball was worked to him on the edge of the Bolton box, but his shot was dragged across the goal, where a good strike on target probably would have beaten the keeper. In a five minute spell just before half time, Spurs were knocking the ball about most pleasingly. There were some fine opportunities created with the ball flying past the goal, but unfortunately not into it.
Just prior to half-time, Iversen had taken another whack on the head, so it was no surprise that he didn't appear for the second half, with Rebrov replacing him. We had expected Bolton to come roaring out, but the first chance of the period fell to Tottenham, when the ball dropped for Gus to hit from the "D", but he pulled it wide of the target too. Another long range effort went wide as the Uruguayan tried to extend Spurs' lead. Two glorious chance were created with Teddy lamely chipping into Jaaskelainen's hands when a more powerful effort was required and Sheringham and Poyet opened up the Bolton defence to set up a chance for Rebrov on a plate. Unfortunately, just six yards out, his first touch was very poor and the ball went away from him and trying to retrieve the situation, he curled the ball wide of the upright.
The home team did string some chances together. Most missed the goal, but directly after Rebrov's chance, a header was played in and bounced up waist high, Thatcher was unable to clear and it ran through for Holdsworth to latch onto the ball before anyone else and lift it over Keller. It was a bitter blow and one that was followed by a period of pressure on the Spurs goal. When it did come, it was accompanied by two fat blokes running along in front of the stand with huge Bolton flags. The thought of them running into each other as they capered along was a very enticing one.
An interception in the box by Perry, looked like it was going in his own goal, but Thatcher saved the situation by hacking the ball out for a corner. Then Sheringham of all people was back in his own six yard box to clear from Ricketts as he closed in on a ball heading towards the line. Then Ricketts had a goal rightly ruled out for offside and Djorkaeff clipped a free-kick onto the Spurs bar and over near the end. One bizarre incident saw the ref give a free kick against Gardner (for what I'm not sure) out wide on the Spurs right wing near the corner flag. When Anthony protested, he was booked and it was moved into the area, where the official moved the Spurs wall back and then he took the ball back out of the box again !! Spurs managed to survive that one and stayed safe until the final whistle.
A darw was probably a fair result, but Tottenham let themselves down in fornt of goal again and too many extravagant passes saw the team hand the ball over to Bolton too often. Sometimes in dangerous positions near our on goal !! Will they never learn ?
If there is a serious intention to improve the League position of the team, then the chances must be converted. Rebrov suffered the indignity of being taken of after coming on as a sub, but his flagrant lack of confidence has made him expendable at the moment. This would not be my long term view, but there must be someone coming into the side who can stick away a much higher percentage of opportunities than the majority of our strikers. Maybe then we will win games over such football giants as Bolton !!
R. HUGH SHAW
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