|DATE||Tuesday 27th March 2012|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
The re-arranged Cup tie against Bolton has come around quickly and
it will be an emotional night, as both sides reflect on Fabrice
Muamba's condition after his collapse that brought the original game
to an end.
However, both sides have been back playing since then, with Spurs gaining two draws against Stoke City and Chelsea, while Bolton returned to action in the derby with Blackburn Rovers and won 2-1. The game against Stoke was a good preparation for this match and while Spurs looked sluggish, they perked up in the second half against Chelsea to do enough to win the game, but could not convert their chances and that will be crucial on the night here.
Bolton started the original game here very well, with Muamba and Reo-Coker running the midfield, while Spurs found it difficult to get going. Bolton took the lead and although Spurs got an equaliser, the balance of the first half that was played was in Bolton's favour and it should not be over-looked when Tottenham approach this match.
It could be a completely different game in style and content, as Bolton will have to re-shape their side and Spurs might have Aaron Lennon back to balance the attack, with quick players on each flank, something that has unhinged the side of late in the poor run.
The visitors could opt to start with Kevin Davies this time, with Mark Davies returning in midfield to drive the team forward and the movement of their midfield will need to be matched by Spurs, who have given the opposition a bit too much space of late.
It could be a tense affair, with both sides realising that this is all they have to play for in terms of a trophy this season, although both have more valuable things on the league horizon, with Wanderers looking to keep their place in the top flight and Spurs looking at a Champions League place.
But league issues will be put aside as the teams battle for the right to play Chelsea in the semi-final at Wembley. The way they played in the draw at Stamford Bridge should give Spurs the boost they need to overcome Bolton and progress, although it will be a close run thing.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 Bolton Wanderers 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs are still without Tom Huddlestone (ankle), Michael Dawson (ankle), David Bentley (knee) and Heurelho Gomes (knee), but could welcome back Ledley King and Aaron Lennon to the side.
WANDERERS TEAM NEWS :
Fabrice Muamba's continued recovery from his collapse is good news, but he will not be back playing for a long time yet and they will face Spurs in the re-arranged fixture without him
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
Bolton Wanderers 1 (0)
FA Cup Sixth Round
Tuesday 27th March 2012 Kick off 19:45
White Hart Lane
|K. Davies 90|
Pratley (foul) 28
|Crowd : 30,718||Weather : Dry, warm|
|Referee : Howard Webb (South Yorkshire)||Assistant Referees : - (-)|
|Fourth Official : -||
Match Delegate : -
Professional Game Match Observer : -
|Bolton kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Bolton Wanderers :||kit|
11 van der Vaart (25 Rose 80)
10 Adebayor (15 Saha 79 )
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Owen Coyle|
|Sponsor : Investec||Shirt sponsor : 188 Bet|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : Reebok|
The emotion surrounding the first schedule attempt at this Sixth Round FA Cup tie with Bolton Wanderers was in place with the teams and the fans joining in their support for the recovering Fabrice Muamba, but once the minute's applause ended, it was game on and Spurs took it to Bolton, ending up 3-1 winners after lengthy resistance from the visitors.
Adam Bogdan in the Bolton goal waged a one man campaign against Tottenham's intended against the Spurs efforts on goal, as his defenders melted away in front of him. In a game where Spurs won 14 corners, had 29 shots, 19 of which were on target, they were well worth their win despite the game being played at a slower tempo than they usually manage and with their finishing lacking a killer instinct.
Bolton made changes to their side to try and mix things up and ensure that there were not too many similarities with that which went out for the first game. This played into Tottenham's hands a bit, with one striker to deal with, it took 70 minutes before they had a meaningful effort on goal and Tottenham could set up in a 4-1-3-1-1 formation. Parker sat in front of what sometimes turned into a back three, with the full backs bombing on, while van der Vaart played behind Adebayor. It didn't help our number sin the box when crosses came in, as we were lying a little bit deep in midfield, but when they joined the attack, they had some of our best chances.
The initial threat in the game came from Bolton when a first minute cross saw Ryan Nelsen get his head to the ball before Darren Pratley and avert any danger, but then Spurs sprang into attack and a passing move across the pitch gave Kyle Walker the chance to cross, but it was blocked. In the fifth minute, Bale unleashed a left foot drive that swerved and had Bogdan grabbing at it at the second attempt, while three minutes later, the keeper did even better, with a neat passing move cutting through the back four on the edge of the box and Adebayor put Jake Livermore in. From five yards out, the keeper got close and blocked the midfielder's shot, with the ball rebounding to Luka Modric, who hit his shot on target, but Bogdan had got up to push the ball over with a fine save.
This gave Spurs the first of their numerous corners, but as with the 130 before it (apparently), Spurs failed to score. A stretching effort was pushed around at his near post by Bogdan after he had collected a weak curling shot from Rafael van der Vaart. In the 20th minute, he was at it again, with a save diving to his left to palm away a precise shot from the left corner of the box by Adeayor and then he was up for the rebound that Bale shot at goal, but it was kept out by the keeper's leg. It looked like it might be one of those days where the keeper gets the man of the match award and the opposition snatch a goal against the run of play and hang on to it.
Darren Pratley, who had flicked on a corner that then hit Bale for Bolton's goal in the first match, was having a difficult time and when Bale ran away from him in the centre circle, he tracked him back, but could only cynically hack him down from behind. He stayed down and ended up being carried off on a stretcher, with Howard Webb waving a yellow card at him as he left the field. This meant an early substitution for Bolton and defender Tim Ream came on to replace the midfielder.
Spurs were moving the ball about the pitch well, but with little tempo and it was Modric who injected some urgency to beat a couple of men on the left and play Adebayor down the line. His pull back came to Bale outside the box and he struck a low shot a foot wide of the keeper's right hand post. When Bale played a square ball into the box from the right in the 39th minute, Parker ran onto it and went past a defender with only the keeper to beat from eight yards out. Bogdan stood up and made himself big, with Scott's shot hitting him and the chance went begging.
Other chances came and went. Bale hit s hot that went the wrong way and curled away from Bogdan's right hand post and missed by a couple of feet, then Ledley go on the end of a corner and headed wide when he might have hit the target.
Spurs luminaries Alan Mullery, Paul Miller and David Howells evoked memories of FA Cup finals past, with Miller's tale of waking up with Glenn Hoddle on the morning of the Cup final very funny.
However, we were soon back to the serious stuff and the match proceeded in the same vein, with a foul on Modric just inside the D giving van der Vaart the opportunity to curl a free-kick over the wall and it hit the crossbar before going behind for a goal-kick. A neat delicate pass by Livermore freed Modric in the box, but instead of hitting it first time, he tried to turn back and lost his footing. King had another headed chance after Walker slipped, conceded possession to Alonso, got it back and played it to van der Vaart to cross in, but the captain's header went narrowly over.
On the hour, Cudicini was scrambling back, as a Chris Eagles shot deflected off a defender and ballooned up in the air dropping just over the bar as Carlo nervously looked on as he scuttled back. But Bogdan once more denied SPurs when they attacked a coupe of minutes later, with Parker's precise through ball to van der Vaart asking to be slid past the keeper, but he stuck out a leg to keep the ball out. Rafa should really have scored from eight yards out. A Walker special from just outside the right corner of the box flew a foot wide with Bogdan unable to react for once, then van der Vaart's far post cross from the right was met by Livermore's head and the ball went just over again.
It really did look like being one of those nights.
With twenty minutes gone, it looked like it might go against Spurs too, with Klasnic seizing onto a flick on from a goalkeeper's clearance and the striker got into the box on the right and Cudicini was required to dive to his left to avoid the ball getting past him at his near post. it was the signal for Harry to make a change and he took Scott Parker off and brought on Jermain Defoe in his place. An attacking change and Spurs reverted to a more familiar 4-4-2 and the little forward was straight into action with a low drive from just left of centre that Bogdan got down to to push wide. This was the first of three corners for Spurs, as they kept the pressure up and one produced another good save from the goalie, tipping Bale's powerful header over as it looked like it might creep in below the bar.
From the third corner, Tottenham finally broke the deadlock in the 74th minute. And it was an unusual goal-scorer that did it ! A previous corner had seen Bogdan flap at it and unconvincingly deal with a high ball, so Rafa played this one to the far post. Bogdan got under it and almost running backwards, Ryan Nelsen managed to get a header that went back across goal and in at the top left corner of the keeper's goal. The relief was palpable, as the crowd celebrated the goal ... and the fact that we had at last scored from a corner.
The Spurs substitution had come just before our goal, so Bolton made one, with Kevin Davies coming on for Boyata to join Krasnic up front. It certainly had an effect, as Spurs had doubled the lead within two minutes. Spurs worked the ball up the left from an interception in our own box by Walker that Rafa cleared to Adebayor. His touch found Defoe, who cut infield and played in Bale in acres of space to the right of centre and he had time to open up his body, get the ball on his left foot and put it to Bogdan's right, passing the ball with a bit of curl into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.
So, suddenly, Spurs had gone 2-0 up when they had been struggling to get one !
More changes ensued, with Tuncay coming on for Bolton and Saha and Rose replacing van der Vaart and Adebayor. But with a few Spurs fans turning their attention to how the semi-final tickets were going to be sold (yours truly included), Bolton broke on the right through Klasnic and his low ball across the box beat Nelsen and coming in at the far post, Kevin Davies stuck out a leg to divert it back across Cudicini and the ball ended up in the bottom corner of our net.
Surely this would only be a consolation and Spurs wouldn't throw it away from this position as we entered three minutes of added time ?
Well, Defoe had two efforts in that time. One on the right when he might have been better trying to pull the ball back across goal to white shirts in the middle instead of going to beat Bogdan at his near post and only hitting the side netting. The second nearly caused a major row with Bale, who was in acres of space again on the right (much like for his goal), when Defoe had the ball on the other side of the box, but perhaps he had the excuse that he could not see Bale behind him, even though he cut inside and had s hot himself that Bogdan kept out.
A cross from the right in the dying moments went to the far post and Zat Knight hacked the ball out when under no pressure. From the throw-in, which was taken short, the ball came to Louis Saha on the left hand corner of the box. He turned Knight inside and with little back-lift, powered a shot that curled past Bodgan into his left hand corner leaving the keeper standing.
With that Howard Webb blew for full-time and Spurs are off to Wembley with a 3-1 win behind them that doesn't tell the full story. It doesn't tell the fact that Spurs dominated and could easily have had ten with some better finishing and a goalkeeper up against them, who wasn't in the form of his life. It also doesn't tell the facts that the team looked disjointed at times and while they did a professional job in going through, they could have made the task a lot easier for themselves.
Chelsea await in a Wembley semi-final, potentially two days before they would play the first leg of their Champions League semi-final if they get through against Benfica. That might distract them, but if we play like we did tonight anf last Saturday against Chelsea, some better finishing might see us through.
And hopefully the Wembley pitch will have improved since our last semi-final visit !!
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