Another one half performance by Spurs was undone by slack marking at
set-pieces and it was Bolton who took advantage of that to win 3-2 after
being pegged back when 2-0 ahead.
gutless first half let Bolton take the initiative and then a goal
against the run of play made it 0-2, but Spurs showed some fighting
spirit, with which they are not usually associated, only to concede yet
another late away goal to condemn them to a pointless trip home.
With Arsenal at home next week, the game would have been one which
needed to have yielded all three points for Tottenham.
It all started well and like the Stoke
game, an early goal could have put Tottenham on the way to victory, but
when David Bentley hit a third minute effort from very long range, it
bounced just in front of Jaaskelainen and he had to parry the ball away
from goal for a corner. It was to be the of many corners in the
game for Spurs, but unlike our opponents, we made little from them.
One dead ball situation saw Matthew
Taylor's left foot play the ball into the Tottenham box in the ninth
minute, with Kevin Davies getting a head to it and the ball flew over to
serve as a warning of what might be coming. Pavlyuchenko replied
in kind at the other end with a flicked header on Bentley's free-kick,
but it went wide before Davies was first to Jaaskelainen's kick up-field
and Makukula got on the end of it, but hit his shot horribly wide.
New signing Mark Davies was putting
himself about a bit in midfield and showed a desire to get into the
area, when he met Steinsson's cross, but his header from around the
penalty spot was wide. In the 25th minute, Spurs had a good
opening, with Bentley getting on the end of Lennon's ball across goal
and the Bolton goalie did well to block the ex-Blackburn man's left
footed shot. Sometimes, Tottenham are their own worse enemies, in
trying to play too much football. When Cudicini rolled the ball
out to Corluka, he was not even looking and as Gardner took the ball to
move forward, the Croat made a recovery tackle to stop his progress.
Wilson Palacios had made his debut by
taking his place in a five man midfield, leaving Roman Pavlyuchenko
alone up front to battle away on his own - never a good tactic and one I
thought Harry might have learned about by now. Unfortunately, for
all Palacios' talents, his tackling isn't always the greatest and when
he flew into Davies, Dowd gave a free-kick, leaving Taylor to put it in
with a bit of whip on it, finding Puygrenier to head home past Cudicini
to give Wanderers a 34th minute lead. On a cold day in the North,
a place anywhere above Hertfordshire, where Spurs never do well, it was
perhaps the last thing the team needed.
The build-up by Tottenham was a little
predictable, as they had not got the speed to get past Bolton in numbers
and if the long ball was played over the top, Pav isn't the quickest or
most robust to get to the ball and hold onto it. However, he did
just that just before half time and alone, he chose to hit a shot from
outside the box that Jaaskelainen saved comfortably. In added
time, Bentley's free-kick did cause a bit of a scramble in front of the
home goal, with Assou-Ekotto having a shot blocked in the melee before
it was kicked away and the half time whistle blew.
The system just wasn't working and Bolton
had stopped Modric being the kingpin that the Spurs moves were rotated
around, as Harry had so kindly told the world, so Muamba's only job was
to stop him playing. Oh, he did get away from that task on one
occasion to hit a shot really wide. Changes were needed at the
break and Harry didn't disappoint, with Jenas and Bent coming on for
Zokora and Modric to make life a bit more difficult for Bolton at the
There is no doubt that the changes made
some effect, with the better of the second half being Tottenham's,
although Bolton did enough in the end to guarantee the win.
Makukula had the best chance at the start of the second half when
Steinsson threw a long throw into the box and picking up the bits from
the clearance, the Portuguese striker managed to get the ball over the
bar from inside the penalty area. It was his last act in the game,
with Ebi Smolarek coming on to replace him.
Pavlyuchenko was making more runs with
someone alongside him to help and when A diagonal ball came to him, he
let it come over his shoulder and struck a volley that the home keeper
saved, but he might have done better putting the ball back into an area
where it might have been more of a problem for Bolton. Within a
couple of minutes a free-kick for handball against Assou-Ekotto handed
Wanderers a 2-0 lead, as the ball wasn't properly cleared and when it
came back into the area in the second phase, Samuel and Cahill set it up
for Kevin Davies to shoot across Cudicini and into the net.
It all looked over and done with, with
Smolarek trying an ambitious overhead kick soon after, but it went
straight at Carlo in goal. Corluka never looks like he can run
properly at the best of times, but his gait indicated something was
wrong and Pascal Chimbonda came on for the first game of his second
spell at the club. And he made quite an impression, with a hand in
the move that produced a lifeline for Tottenham. Lennon played him
in down the line and his ball in from the right found Darren Bent six
yards out, making it easy for him to knock the ball past Jaaskelainen.
It gave encouragement to the Tottenham
team and within two minutes they were level. Once more Chimbonda
marauded up the right wing and when he crossed, the ball came out to the
edge of the box, where Palacios was waiting to smash a shot on goal,
forcing the keeper to dive to keep it out. He could only put it
into Bent's path and the striker stuck away the loose ball to make it
2-2. The momentum was now with Tottenham and Bolton were rocking.
Their players looked at each other for an answer to what had happened
and the crowd had gone quiet.
Spurs continued to push forward and the
game could have become stretched, but no clear goalscoring chances were
made, until a corner was conceded with three minutes of normal time
remaining and Taylor landed it on Kevin Davies' head to power it past
Bentley on the post. It was, once more, poor marking and it cost
more the team points that we need at the moment.
There was one last chance to get in the
Bolton area and Chimbonda was freed in a good position on the right
wing, but this time his cross flew over everyone and behind for a
goal-kick that signalled the final whistle. It was a bold effort
to get back into the game, but once we had got there, we did not think
about retaining what we had.
It is getting to the stage where we need
to win games away from home, but with our lack of concentration and lack
of belief, that is becoming less likely. We won't stay up is we
have to rely on our home form either, so something has got to change.
We can't defend, so why persist with one up front in away games ?
Leave Modric out in away matches, if the other side are going to put
some great lummox on him and that at least will mean we have two men in
attack to occupy their defenders.
THE FUNKY PHANTOM