Sunday, March 24, 2019

Unlikely point keeps Bolton afloat

in English Premier League 26 Apr 2008

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Bolton remain one point clear of the relegation zone after claiming an unlikely 1-1 draw at Tottenham on Saturday.

Spurs have little left to play for this season but completely dominated the match, even though it was half-time substitute Stelios Giannokopoulos who gave Bolton an undeserved lead within 24 seconds of his introduction.

It was their only real opportunity of the entire game and Steed Malbranque scored an equaliser soon afterwards to ensure Bolton did not take all three points away from North London.

Tottenham left-back Gilberto returned to the starting line up along with Jonathan Woodgate.

Bolton made one change to their side as they searched for a third straight victory, as Joey O’Brien began in place of Tamir Cohen in midfield.

Gary Megson set his side up to be resolute, and it was just as well because they did little to trouble Tottenham during the first half.

Juande Ramos’s side completely dominated proceedings, with Robbie Keane hitting the first shot of the afternoon on seven minutes.

Bolton were forced into a change on 19 minutes as O’Brien picked up a knock and was replaced by Danny Guthrie.

Aaron Lennon fired an effort over the crossbar soon afterwards, and as Tottenham continued to force Bolton into mistakes, Keane then curled a shot just off target.

Former Tottenham forward Grzegorz Rasiak was having little luck as he operated in a lone role in attack for much of the half.

Malbranque and Gilberto had further opportunies on goal, but it was in first half injury-time that Tottenham came closest to scoring.

Gilberto drilled a left footed free-kick towards goal, and the ball hit the post after taking a deflection off Gary Cahill.

Both sides made changes for the second half. Tottenham introduced Tom Huddlestone, while Bolton brought on Stelios Gianokopolous and El Hadji Diouf.

It was the away side who saw their changes make an immediate impact, as Giannokopolous found the net following their first meaningful attack of the game.

Gretar Steinsson guided a low cross into the area from the right wing, and as Cerny hesitated in collecting the ball Giannakopolous slid in to poked home.

Their lead lasted just five minutes, though. Jermaine Jenas played a ball into Keane on the edge of the area, and after a smart turn he slid a pass towards the six yard box where Malbranque slotted home.

Darren Bent was immediately brought on in place of Michael Dawson, leaving Huddlestone to drop into a less familiar central defensive position.

Keane wasted a chance to put the home side in front on 55 minutes as he took one touch too many, and then Lennon had a shot stopped.

Malbranque missed a golden opportunity on the hour mark. He guided a shot the wrong wide of Ali Al Habsi’s left hand post after a neat chip into the area by Keane.

Forward Dimitar Berbatov was next to have a strike on goal for Tottenham, but Al Habsi pushed his low shot wide, following good approach play by Lennon.

Despite the heavy pressure, Bolton continued to hold out.

They were let off the hook on 73 minutes however, as Bent should have done better when one-on-one with visiting goalkeeper Al Habsi.

With eight minutes left Jonathan Woodgate guided a header wide, Bent had another headed effort cleared off the line by Guthrie in injury-time, and then Berbatov missed a chance.

But Bolton managed to hold out and still have hope of keeping their top-flight status although a final day visit to title-chasing Chelsea does not augur well for Megson’s men.

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