QUIBBLES about value for money at top-flight English football matches were set aside for 10 days in north London.
For as little as £34 a ticket, the spectator was treated not just to a competitive 40 minutes of football abruptly ended by an ‘I was there’ life-time pub story, but a further match last night of great goalkeeping in the face of wave after wave of Spurs attack.
The first half belonged to ‘magic Magyar’ Adam Bogdan, whose acrobatic feats between the sticks were enough to keep out a dominant, yet leggy, Tottenham onslaught.
Bolton had little of the ball, but remained compact enough. It’s not just the journalist band wagon, without Lennon on the right and Bale hugging the left, Spurs looked out of sorts.
The second half began in much the same fashion. Modric and Bale dominated possession in midfield, but clear chances for Adebayor and van der Vaart were swatted away by the impressive, ginger Hungarian.
It was only after Jermaine Defoe replaced the jaded Scott Parker that pressure turned into goals.
An excellent van der Vaart free kick that hit the crossbar aside, Tottenham’s set pieces were distinctly underwhelming. Ironically, it was from a corner that the Lillywhites went ahead in the 74th minute. Kiwi veteran Ryan Nelsen nodded in his first for his new club.
Having not registered a victory in all competitions since a replay win against Stevenage, the atmosphere at White Hart Lane palpably relaxed when Bale found himself clear to notch the second.
The Spurs faithful were rolling out the Wembley chants when Kevin Davies netted a surprise comeback goal for Bolton in 90th minute.
Their nerves were calmed when Louis Saha bent one around Bogdan in the last minute of stoppage time. By his substitution choices and overall game plan, Owen Coyle gave the impression he’d rather concentrate on staying the Premier League anyway.
Of course, we all clapped before the match to recognise the efforts of the medical staff who attended Fabrice Muamba. Thankfully, the game didn’t turn into a reverential procession it could have done.
Harry Redknapp does need to pull his team’s finger out. They played a lot better when his dog was up at Southwark Crown for tax evasion…