Spurs Brought Back Down To Earth by Kevin Davies and Bolton Wanderers
Bolton 4 - 2 Tottenham
Bolton Wanderers survived a thrilling Spurs comeback to claim all three points against at the Reebok Stadium.
Tottenham, who were coming off the back of a 3-1 victory over Inter Milan in the Champions League, could have gone back above Manchester City with a win, but failed to recapture their midweek European form.
The game started scrappily, with both sides guilty of giving the ball away cheaply.
And it was one such moment that lead to Kevin Davies giving Bolton the lead shortly after the half hour mark.
Sandro—preferred to Tom Huddlestone in the middle of the park—was caught in possession by Bolton's Fabrice Muamba. Muamba passed to an unmarked, and very offside Kevin Davies, who rolled the ball past Heurelho Gomes in the Tottenham goal.
Gareth Bale, who had tormented Inter at White Hart Lane, was causing problems down the Spurs left and nearly created the equaliser, but Peter Crouch was unable to get on the end of Bale's cross.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp brought Roman Pavlyuchenko on at half-time, replacing the largely disappointing Wilson Palacios. It signalled a switch to the 4-4-2 system, with the intention of providing Crouch with more support.
But it was Bolton who started the second half with more purpose, and they deservedly added to their lead on 56 minutes. Johan Elmander got to the by-line and pulled the ball back to Gretar Steinsson, who finished assuredly from 12 yards out.
Huddlestone was rightly brought on to replace Sandro, who failed to have any influence on the game, and Spurs started to create a few chances.
Pavlyuchenko set up Niko Kranjcar inside the Bolton box, but the Croatian—making his first league appearance of the season—could only blaze his effort over the bar.
A Spurs mistake then gifted Bolton their third goal.
William Gallas needlessly gifted the ball back to Bolton in his own defensive third and the ball broke to Lee Chung-Yung in the Tottenham box, who was bundled over by Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Davies stepped up and slammed the ball past Gomes for his second goal of the afternoon.
The three points seemed safe, but then Tottenham sparked into life.
Alan Hutton, who has made the right back position his own this season, pulled a goal back after 79 minutes. The Scottish international cut in from the right flank before curling a delightful left foot finish into the Bolton goal.
Eight minutes later, Bolton's defence failed to clear a Tottenham corner and the ball fell to Pavlyuchenko.
With the angle acute and two opposing players bearing down upon him, Pavlyuchenko kept his eye on the ball before unleashing an unstoppable volley past Jussi Jaaskelainen. The Finnish keeper barely had time to raise his hands before the ball had nestled into the back of the net.
Bolton were now looking nervous and Tottenham rampant. Three minutes into injury time, a long ball upfield left the Bolton defence slow to react and William Gallas found himself in the unusual position of being clear through on goal.
But as he approached the edge of the Bolton box, the impressive Stuart Holden produced a game saving tackle to rob the former Arsenal defender of the ball.
The ball was cleared upfield and Davies nodded the ball down to substitute Martin Petrov, who calmly rolled the ball past Gomes to seal the three points.
The result leapfrogged Bolton above Tottenham and into the top five in the Premier League. They have impressed with their performances after being tipped as strugglers at the start of the season.
Kevin Davies has matured further as a player and Elmander has contributed with a few goals. Gary Cahill and Zat Knight have formed a formidable partnership at the back, and the play of American international Holden will have surprised many.
Tottenham, meanwhile, will face questions about their ability to switch between European competition and the league. They missed Rafael van der Vaart—who has been a revelation since signing in August—and will be hoping the Defoe isn't far from returning to fitness to provide them with a real goal scoring threat upfront.
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