With an air of nervous static hanging over White Hart Lane, the storm
had to break some time and it waited until the players came to walk
around the pitch to thank the fans for their support, such was it's
determination not to spoil the football. Even Tom Huddlestone's
thunderous shot that eventually won the match was not sufficient to
change the weather and whether or not it changes the course of the
season as to who finishes fourth we will have to wait and see.
Tottenham are doing all they can to make
sure they hold their destiny in their own hands, while also trying to
give the supporters heart attacks at the same time. Some fans seem
to be creating their own script with boos when Defoe was taken off and
cheers when the previously heralded "Super-Pav" had been substituted.
We all want the team to do well, but in the middle of a vital match,
such "support" might easily go the other way.
The expectation was evident from the off
and the inclusion of Ledley King was a surprise, with the City game
coming up on Wednesday, but with Kaboul installed at right back and
Palacios making way, the side looked a little more balanced, as
Assou-Ekotto returned to left back.
Spurs didn't start at a great pace and
Owen Coyle's Bolton seem to have learned from Burnley's experience at
the Lane earlier in the season. Passing the ball around, they
tried to push Tottenham back, without a great deal of success.
Spurs had a couple of good openings, with Modric firing too high from a
good position, followed by Bale's near post cross seeing Pavlyuchenko
being put off by Knight's challenge, just as he looked to turn the ball
Referee Chris Foy was having a bit of a
mare, awarding free-kicks for the softest of challenges by Spurs players
and allowing Bolton's tackles that came through the back of the home
players to go unpunished. With this in mind, it was a major event
when he blew the whistle in Tottenham's favour.
On ten minutes, Younes Kaboul, who had a
good game rampaging through the Bolton defence from right back, pulled
the ball back low to Roman, but he scuffed his shot. Shortly
afterwards, Tom Huddlestone hit a power shot well over the bar.
From a cleared corner, Bale ran at the edge of the box and hit a shot
with his right foot, but it was not as powerful as that against Chelsea
and Jaaskelainen dealt with it comfortably. But when Bolton broke,
it needed Michael Dawson's diving intervention to deflect a shot wide
when Steinsson cut inside from the right to look to sneak one in past
Gomes. The Spurs centre-half's block stopped it even getting that
In the 28th minute, it was a typical Bale
run from the left that saw him move to the D on the edge of the box, but
cut back onto his left foot before thumping a shot that Jaaskelainen did
well to turn aside with strong wrists. With about ten minutes to
half time, Bentley went on a run down the right, but Paul Robinson
brought him down off the ball and Tottenham were given a free-kick and
the Trotters' defender a yellow card. Bale swung the ball in from
the free-kick and the Bolton keeper was stretching and flapping at the
ball at the far post to take it out for a corner. It was taken
short to Assou-Ekotto, who the crowd urged to shoot, but unlike a number
of his earlier passes, this one found a white shirt and he rolled it
into the path of Hud, who thundered his right foot shot first time into
the space just inside the angle of post and crossbar to beat
Jaaskelainen. It was a fine strike and one that was typical of
what Tottenham needed to break the deadlock in a game that was becoming
a little frustrating.
Crosses were being dealt with well by
Heurelho Gomes, who elected to punch in election week and did so very
well, but the conservative approach by the outfield players, with
liberal doses of effort was seeing them labour to achieve their aim.
The second half saw Tottenham attack the
Paxton Road end and produced enough chances to win a couple of games,
but as has been the way this season, they failed to finish off the
opposition and leave us on the edge of our seats. Pav was trying
to do his best to add to the score, with a shot over and a shot wide,
but he frustrated his colleagues who considered themselves better
Chances came Tottenham's way and Bentley
got past Cahill before dragging his shot across goal, then Bale set up
Hud for another shot, but this time he put it a yard or more wide.
While Bolton didn't really get near the
Spurs goal, Matthew Taylor hit a shot just after the hour that Gomes got
down to his left to push wide, although it looked like it might be going
wide anyway, but was up quickly to grab the ball before anyone got near
it. Straight away Spurs broke and Defoe ran from left to right
across the face of the box to hit a curling right foot shot that missed
by a couple of feet or so. Then Kaboul broke down the right and just when it
looked as though he had pushed the ball too far and it was going out for
a goal-kick, he nicked a ball to the near post and Pavlyuchenko had a
free header that he put wide from a couple of yards out.
The next attack came in the 66th minute,
when Assou-Ekotto released Bale inside his opponent and he ran into the
box at a narrow angle and took a shot with the outside of his left foot
that would have gone into the opposite corner, if not for Jaaskelainen
getting a touch off his shoulder to take it out for a corner.
A couple of minutes later, Wilshere broke
forward to slip a pass through to substitute Elmander on the left side
of the box. Gomes had raced out to him and he back-heeled the ball
into the path of Taylor, who shot at goal, but Kaboul was covering to
block the effort before it reached the goal. It was a nervous
moment for the Spurs fans and kept the nails being bitten. With 79
minutes past, Pavlyuchenko was inches away form converting what would
have been a very good goal. Michael Dawson swung a free-kick from
the right side, just ten yards inside the Bolton half, to the left wing,
where Gareth Bale volleyed it first time across the face of goal, with
the Russian striker half a yard behind the ball and his slide could not
connect with it.
With six minutes of normal time left,
Bale played in a pacy corner to find Crouch's head and he put his header
down into the ground and it bounced up and was headed off the line by
Chung-Yong Lee. With four minutes left, Robinson played a long
free-kick into the Tottenham box and while it was headed out at the
second attempt, it dropped to Taylor on the edge of the box and he
chested it down and hit a volley that Gomes was alert to and dived to
his left to parry away, when it looked like it might bring Bolton an
In the 89th minute, it looked as though
Spurs might get a free-kick as Lennon was kicked down form behind, but
Foy did not give it and Crouch picked up the ball on the right to weave
past two defenders and get into the box, where he produced a shot that
might have beaten the goalie had he put some more power behind it, but
Jaaskelainen dived to his right to smother the effort.
With every missed chance, the pressure
added to Tottenham's task, so with added time of three minutes to play
it did not help things, when Gomes jumped to pretend to take a long
free-kick that cleared everyone and was going off for a goal-kick and
came down holding his groin. He needed treatment and with three
subs already used, he had to carry on, with his participation in
Wednesday's crunch match in the balance.
However, Spurs did the right thing in
trying to keep the ball up near Bolton's goal and when Jaaskelainen
muffed his clearance from a back-pass, Lennon took the ball down on the
right, ran into the penalty area and could have shot, but laid it left
to Gudjohnsen, who side-footed the ball the way the keeper had just come
from, but missed by a yard, when he should have at least hit the target
and made the goalie work.
As it turned out it didn't matter that
much, although the goal difference might have come in handy, with the
final whistle going shortly after. Much to the relief of players
As the news came in that Manchester City
had beaten Aston Villa 3-1, it leaves the game on Wednesday poised to be
crucial in both clubs' seasons. Villa and Liverpool (virtually)
are out of the running, leaving the hard work to start all over again at
The team will need to put in two more top
performances to keep fourth place. Can they make it ? Let's
see, shall we.