Thursday, May 03, 2012

Bolton Wanderers 1 Tottenham 4

Spurs' win over Bolton gave them their first away win of  2012, their first league success at the Reebok Stadium and two consecutive Premier League wins for the first time since January.  They retain fourth place ahead of Newcastle United on goal difference and are only one point behind Arsenal who are third with two games remaining.

Bolton Wanderers 1 Tottenham Hotspur 4
Scorers: Reo-Coker    Modric, Van der Vaart, Adebayor (2)
Team: Friedel; Walker, Gallas (Nelsen), Kaboul, Rose; Lennon (Saha), Sandro (Livermore), Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart; Adebayor  Subs: (unused) Cudicini, King, Giovani, Defoe 

The England manager's position having been settled after three months during which Tottenham's form slumped alarmingly, Spurs returned to better times with a hard-working display that showed some of their old confidence which has been so lacking for too long.  Having waited for a Tottenham player to step up and score a 'screamer' of a goal we end up with two in two games.  As if to show Kyle Walker that he wasn't the only one capable of a super strike, Luka Modric followed suit with a 'wonder' opening goal in the first half.  Receiving the ball direct from a corner by Rafael Van der Vaart, Modric controlled the ball and fired an unstoppable shot from twenty five yards.  After a Bolton revival and early second half strike Spurs rallied with three goals in nine minutes to secure the much needed win and the vital three points in their quest for next season's Champions League place.

The Tottenham team was unchanged from their easy victory over Blackburn Rovers on Sunday.  Brad Friedel became the oldest player ever to play for Spurs in the League moving ahead of Jimmy Cantrell, a centre forward who played for them before and after the 1st World War.  Scott Parker was still absent through injury while Ledley King was again on the bench along with Jermain Defoe.

Both teams were in great need of the points but for different reasons - Bolton to lift them out of the bottom three while Spurs are aiming to get into the top three by the end of the season.  Spurs had an early corner at which Bolton deployed the Stoke City defensive tactics with Wheater dragging Younes Kaboul all over the penalty area.  Spurs were looking to the pace of Aaron Lennon to cause Bolton problems as both teams started brightly and looked to get forward quickly.  Spurs had an early scare when Danny Rose missed a tackle but recovered to clear the danger.  

Bolton worked hard to keep Spurs in their own half but after eleven minutes Gareth Bale had a shot blocked by the goalkeeper who again blocked Van der Vaart's follow up shot.  Almost immediately Emmanuel Adebayor was put through by Van der Vaart but he was unable to control the ball.  After fifteen minutes Friedel collected the ball under pressure from a Bolton free-kick but it was Spurs who had had 55% possession in the opening period.  Spurs continued to show positive intentions with good interplay between Lennon and Adebayor resulting in Lennon's shot going out for a corner.

Spurs were displaying the greater threat in attack and midway through the half a good run by Bale ended with a super cross but with three players up in support, no-one was able to reach it.  Bolton were fully committed and covered back quickly when they lost the ball making it difficult for Spurs to make forward progress even with 60% of possession in the opening twenty five minutes.

Bale was again the source of danger with a cross blocked and then Van der Vaart fired wide from a free-kick.  After a period of home pressure Friedel made a good save from Ngog who had the chance when a long cross from the left was played back to him and he turned quickly but Friedel had come out quickly and got a block on the shot.  Spurs then moved forward and when Adebayor's shot was blocked, Sandro who worked hard all evening, followed up and put Bolton under pressure with the ball being cleared for a corner.  Spurs had some good fortune in that the ball had struck Sandro on the hand as he went for it but perhaps it was pay back time in Spurs' favour this time as Spurs were to score from the corner which was awarded.

What a great strike it was from Modric after thirty six minutes who had positioned himself well outside the area to receive from Van der Vaart.  It was Spurs first away goal in four matches since Adebayor's penalty put them two up at the Emirates.  Spurs maintained their ascendancy with the corner count showing their five to none from Bolton with five minutes of the half remaining.  In those final minutes, however, Bolton felt they could have had a penalty for handball against William Gallas or holding by Kaboul.  An Eagles shot went wide and in the last minute of added time they squandered a glorious chance to draw level when the Spurs defence got into disarray from a free-kick and Boyata fired over an open goal.

The second half started with early Bolton pressure but Spurs still threatened when a pass from Van der Vaart to put Adebayor clear was cut out by a defender.  After six minutes the Bolton pressure paid off as Spurs defended poorly from a basic throw in as a flick on and back heel put Rio-Coker in to level the scores.  Bolton were on top for the first time in the match and the crowd who had given Fabrice Muamba a great reception when he appeared on the pitch before the match came to life to back their team.  Spurs frequently gave the ball away in their haste to clear and were hemmed in their own half.  After fifty five minutes Bolton won their first corner and with three quick corners the home team kept up the pressure and a shot from Eagles went just over the bar.

Spurs then turned the match in their favour with two goals in two minutes on the hour.  First a quick counter attack by Bale on the left and he pulled the ball back for Van der Vaart to score with a shot across the goalkeeper.  Two minutes later, Modric released Lennon and he selflessly put the ball across fro Adebayor to get the third.  The home side and their supporters were in shock but in response Ngog had a shot easily saved by Friedel and poor defending from another throw in almost caused Spurs a problem.

After 69 minutes good inter-passing by Modric and Bale enabled Adebayor to take the ball around the goalkeeper and score his second and Spurs' fourth.

Bolton tried to respond through Petrov who for the first time got away from Kyle Walker but Friedel blocked his powerful shot and Sandro got back to clear any further danger.  Adebayor was now causing more problems for Bolton as he tried to play in Lennon but the home side crowded him out.  He then blasted over following a break by Bale as he looked for his hat-trick.  In the final minutes Spurs almost added to Bolton's misery as Bale had two shots blocked for a corner and in the final action Walker's shot was also deflected off a defender and the goalkeeper for a corner.

Spurs won at a ground where they always find it difficult and managed to prevent the Bolton captain, Kevin Davies, from getting his customary goal or goals against them.  It was a vital win as Newcastle beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to keep apace with Spurs for fourth but both clubs are now only a point behind Arsenal whose goal difference advantage over Spurs has been reduced to one goal.

Spurs' performance was vastly improved from previous away games, they showed much more purpose and forward intent, they played with more confidence than they have for quite some time and showed a greater endeavour and fight against a team renowned for its combative qualities.  Now it's on to Villa Park on Sunday afternoon in the penultimate stage of the race for third, fourth or fifth.



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