Sunday, April 30, 2006

Super Lennon Strike Keeps Spurs on Fourth Track

Sunday, 30th April - White Hart Lane

Spurs 1 Bolton Wanderers 0

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't their best display of the season, in fact it was one of their poorer showings but Spurs earned three points to keep control of the race for fourth and to increase the pressure on Arsenal to win their two matches in hand. As expected, Bolton proved very difficult to play and especially in the first half when they restricted the space that Spurs had to play in and competed for every ball. This forced Spurs to play the game like Bolton and they were coming off second best throughout the first forty five minutes.

Martin Jol used Danny Murphy in place of the suspended Edgar Davids, the only change from last weekend. Tainio had recovered from his injury but was almost totally anonymous in the first half which Bolton dominated and could have been ahead. They had a number of scoring opportunities, with a shot crashing off the post while Spurs rarely looked dangerous but the best moves came from a run by Carrick when he was upended on the edge of the box and a run from Lennon which showed how he could lift the team. Bolton were quicker to the ball and played a high pressure game with the ball constantly fired into the penalty area with their midfield support players looking to meet the knock downs. Spurs defended stoutly but created nothing going forward, with Keane and Defoe receiving little service or support.

The second half started with Robbie Keane being replaced by Lee Barnard, Keane suffering from an ankle injury. However, Spurs started with much more purpose and created more danger in the first few minutes than in all of the first half. They played their game, passing and moving to create space and looked much more dangerous. And this was how the goal eventually came - on the hour, a passing movement on the right between Carrick and Lennon saw Carrick go wide and play Lennon into the penalty area. Lennon took the ball on to score a lovely goal.

Bolton now started to pressurise again but the spurs' defence held firm with Dawson being outstanding. The one cause for concern came when Dawson seemed to bring Stelios Giannakopoulos down in the area but the Cup Final referee failed to award the penalty. (This could be regarded as justice for Defoe's goal being disallowed at Bolton).

Paul Robinson was commanding and even when under severe pressure he defended his goal courageously, coming to collect the ball and punching clear as Bolton pumped high balls into the area. Barnard worked hard and gave the Bolton defenders less time to clear the ball. Ten minutes from time Andy Reid, replaced Defoe who again failed to sparkle with the England manager watching and Davenport replaced an injured Murphy for the last crucial minutes.

There were four minutes added time but Spurs held on the receive the applause of the spectators and a standing ovation as they took their traditional end of season 'lap of honour.' For the first time in many seasons the players and manager were deserving of such accolades. 'Glory, Glory, Hallelujah' was clearly audible throughout the game and now with Europe secure and fourth or fifth guaranteed, Spurs travel to West Ham knowing that a win will bring them the satisfaction of finishing above their North London neighbours for the first time since 1995.

A little assistance from Sunderland, Manchester City or Wigan would be appreciated but Spurs are still fourth and in control of their own destiny and go into the final League game with something to play for the first time since 1996 when they were hoping to grasp the last UEFA Cup place. Ultimately, they failed - a draw at Newcastle not being good enough - but they were also dependent on other results being favourable while this time it's up to themselves, if Spurs win they will be fourth and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Spurs finished their final home game with a win, in a season that has seen them lose at home on only two occasions, to the top two teams in the League. It has been an amazing turn round in fortune for the club since Martin Jol (Pic: Manager Martin Jol - amazing season) took over as a manager and it is looking very good for Tottenham Hotspur.

Team: Robinson, Stalteri, Lee, Dawson, Gardner, Murphy (Davenport 86), Tainio, Carrick, Lennon, Keane (Barnard 45), Defoe (Reid 78).

Subs Not Used: Cerny, Huddlestone.


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