A bizarre game that saw three penalties awarded, two not given and
only one of them scored, but Niko Kranjcar stepped off the substitute's
bench to fire a winner in injury time to give Tottenham the three points
that keep them in touch with the leading pack.
With Michael Dawson back in place of
Sebastien Bassong, Spurs took to the field otherwise unchanged from the
starting line-up against Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday, with Bolton
lining up to match Tottenham's 4-4-2 formation.
Spurs kicked off and started attacking
from the off. A couple of crosses into the box came to nothing
before one of many Bolton fouls gave Tottenham a free-kick on the left
wing, which Rafael van der Vaart took. After the ball was headed
goal-wards at the near post by Michael Dawson, the Bolton keeper
Jaaskelanien kept it out, but batted the ball down in the six yard box,
where Vedran Corluka swung at it and got it to got at goal.
However, his effort was stopped by Kevin Davies' outstretched arm and
referee Clattenburg pointed to the spot.
Rafael van der Vaart took the ball and
the responsibility of taking the spot-kick and dispatched it high to the
keeper's right to put Tottenham ahead. As it was, the action was
only just beginning.
With Bolton having re-started, Spurs won
the ball and made their way up the left wing, where Aaron Lennon cut in
and pushed the ball past Sam Ricketts, who could only take his legs form
underneath him. A second penalty was awarded within as many
minutes, with van der Vaart once more taking the ball. While the
Bolton players tried to hold play up, the Dutchman coolly sent the ball
into the same spot in the net as before and wheeled away to celebrate.
But Clattenburk pointed to the spot again, making Spurs re-take the
penalty because of encroachment. Re-spotting the ball, Rafa tried
to go for the same place a third time, but pushed his shot too wide and
an injustice was done to Spurs.
The flow of the game was generally
towards the Bolton goal and Lennon cut inside in the 18th minute to drag
his shot a yard wide, while Corluka's long ball into the box picked out
Crouch, who lofted the ball over Zat Knight, but it wouldn't come down
quick enough for him to have a shot and Ricketts got the ball away from
him. Bolton's first real threat came in the 21st minute, when Matt
Taylor swung in a cross from their left wing and Johan Elmander rose
above Gallas to head powerfully against the face of the crossbar.
The visitors began to press and Sturridge had a couple of opportunities
with Dawson closing him down on the right of Tottenham's box to make him
shoot into the side-netting at the Park Lane end, while the Spurs
skipper got a block in on his shot as he wriggled free in the area.
It looked like Tottenham had extended the
lead in the 28th minute, when Jermain Defoe got his head to the ball in
front of Knight, as van der Vaart's low cross caught out the Bolton
defence. And it should have been 2-0 when Crouch got onto
Assou-Ekotto's pass and dallied a little before getting his shot away
and didn't get the chance to, as Robinson nicked the ball off him.
Then, just ten minutes before the break, Wilson Palacios started a run
from halfway and ended it with a shot from the edge of the box that
lacked sufficient curl on it to beat Jaaskelainen.
In the rest of the half, there was only a
van der Vaart free-kick that beat the wall but was caught high in the
top corner of the goal as an attempt on goal, but as Crouch went into
the box, another handball saw Clattenburk point to the spot, but the
linesman's flag had been raised for some time for offside and the ref
had to go over to speak to him to find out what he should do ... so
little did he have a clue as to what was going on.
With former MEHSTG contributor Gareth
Dace appearing at half-time to talk about an academic scheme run by the
Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, Steven Pienaar was warming up ready to
come on for van der Vaart. It started out looking a good move, as
Spurs pressured Bolton without testing them too much and then in the
55th minute it all went wrong. Dawson had a chance to play the
ball away from a tackle on the halfway line, but chose to try and play a
short ball to Pienaar that sold him short. The ball was taken away
by Mark Davies, who ran at the middle of the Spurs defence and slipped a
pass out to his right to Daniel Sturridge, the loan player from Chelsea,
who struck a low shot that went through Gomes, who might have done
better to stop it.
Things looked like they might get even
worse, as Cahill took a pass through into the box, but as Benoit came in
to tackle him, he went down looking for a penalty, which brought a
whistle from Clattenburk. But for once, his decision went in
Tottenham's favour, as he booked the England centre-half for diving.
Pienaar's benefit to the side started to
show as he took the ball up-field whenever he got hold of it an kept the
ball well. He set up Defoe for a shot that the Spurs striker put
over the top when he might have done better concentrating on hitting the
target. Jermaine Jenas had another good game, being unlucky not to
get on the score-sheet after he hit the post with Jaaskelainen beaten
following a foul on him after a long run into the heart of the Bolton
half. A minute later, the Bolton goalie as quickly off his line to
block Pienaar's shot after he had been put in by Defoe.
Fifteen minutes to go and it was almost a
repeat of the Bolton goal, as Holden this time freed Sturridge on the
right, but this time Dawson made a great challenge to stop his shot.
Then the keeper did well to stop Defoe's shot and Holden then got out to
Corluka, who looked like he might score when Lennon laid the ball into
There was four minutes of added time, as
part of the time-wasting by Bolton was identified by the referee as well
as all the substitutions. Spurs had thrown on Kranjcar for the
limping Palacios and two minutes into the extra minutes, Spurs own the
ball and played it up to Pavlyuchenko, who was on for Crouch. Pav
touched the ball out to his right to Kranjcar, who took the ball back
inside Knight and from 22 yards out, he struck a shot that left
Jaaskelainen grasping at thin air as the ball hit the net.
Just before the goal, there had been a
loud cheer for Newcastle's comeback to 4-4 with Arsenal after being 0-4
down, but the crowd roared louder than for a long while when Niko's shot
went in to almost guarantee three points.
With the rest of the game being played
out with Spurs trying to play keep ball, Bolton went down with a
Having had the chance to be 2-0 up in
nine minutes, only to be denied by the referee, it was another great
display of the resolve of the Tottenham team to keep going until the end
to get what they want. With a few players out on their feet, it
was a performance that shows this side has the hunger to get success and
the response after the capitulation at Fulham shows some character.
It will need to be carried on through the remainder of the season, as it
gets tighter at the top of the table.