Big Tomâ€™s 38th minute thunderbolt past the grasping hand of Jaaskelainen was enough to win us the game but it was a victory that relied for the most part on the performances in defence. In particular it was the display from Kaboul returning at right back that caught the eye as he not only looked solid at the back but also carried the attack to Bolton and was the architect of much that was good in the away teamâ€™s half, particularly in the first forty five minutes.
Boltonâ€™s management may have changed and tried to introduce a style on the pitch thatâ€™s not quite so huff and puff based but any team including Kevin Davies is going to be more battering ram than surgeonâ€™s scalpel. Redknapp made the decision that two outings from King before the seasonâ€™s end were what was needed despite the cost of him probably missing the Eastlands showdown and Ledley and Dawson were made to work hard by Davies and Klasnic as Bolton chipped and chased forward looking for second ball possession. They coped admirably and despite the physical pressure imposed rarely showed signs of being breached. Gomes had only one serious save to make, a volley from Taylor in the 86th minute. He had saved low to his left earlier, another Taylor shot but I think that was going wide. The keeperâ€™s punching and catching were first class and helped greatly to reduce the threat of a big Bolton team.
Up front we again seemed to lack spark and Harry will be bothered by it. Pavlyuchenkoâ€™s rangefinder was well wonky and Defoe had only one effort on goal all day. Whilst he worked hard attempting to link up play, he rarely found space inÂ dangerous areas. A lot of that might be put down to the lack of quality service from both wings. Bentley needs too many touches and is often too slow, it was a huge relief when Lennon came on, he surely will start on Wednesday? On the left Bale was shifted back up into midfield but wasnâ€™t allowed to dominate as much as weâ€™re used to as Steinsson and Weiss double marked him.
Weiss was taken off after an hour and Bale came far more to the fore, he was one of many who passed up the opportunity to make the game safe in the last twenty minutes. Crouch, Pav and Gudjohnsen all spurned chances that wouldâ€™ve allowed the crowd to enjoy the last few minutes rather than go through the all too familiar Spurs associated stomach clenching emotions. If my maths is right, the only way goal difference will affect the positions of City and ourselves is if we draw on Wednesday and lose to Burnley at the weekend whilst West Ham hold City to a draw at Upton Park. A fairly unlikely scenario.
Huddlestone was the stand out player in front of the back four. He performed his defensive role in front of Ledley and Dawson with good commitment and discipline and in general used the ball wisely and carefully. His shot for the goal was precision stuff, just evading the hand of Jussi and flying just inside the angle of post and crossbar. Cracking stuff.
Roll on Wednesday, but the nerves they are a-jangling so strap yourself in, it could be a bumpy ride.
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