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Croats clinch point

Posted on 3 October 2009  - 12:00

A Croatian double secured the team a point in a 2-2 draw against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.

Croats clinch point

It was a Croatian double-act that secured the team a point in a 2-2 draw against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.

Niko Kranjcar and Vedran Corluka netted their first goals from the Club - a first competitive goal in Corluka's case after his pre-season strike against Olympiacos - as the boys twice came from behind in a hard-fought contest in the North West.

Harry Redknapp made one change to his starting line-up from last weekend's victory over Burnley at the Lane, with Peter Crouch coming in for Jermain Defoe - meaning a strikeforce of Keane and Crouch, scorers of seven goals between them in their last starts.

It took only three minutes for the home side to register a goal for themselves. A long throw from the right eventually fell to Chung-Yong Lee, who dispatched a shot that Carlo Cudicini could only parry into the path of the waiting Ricardo Gardner and the Jamaican international gleefully smashed into the net.

Buoyed by the early boost, Bolton continued to play the percentages, gaining territory and winning free-kicks from which they will always pose a threat. Gardner provided an alternative threat on 14 minutes when he surged through and played in Tamir Cohen and the son of the former Liverpool player Avi was foiled by the advancing Cudicini.

A Crouch header from a Kranjcar free-kick was our single attacking sortie of note in the opening stages. Kranjcar later span his marker and shot wide as the team started to win something of a foothold in the game, but Bolton were settling into a stubborn 4-5-1 system in an attempt to smother the encounter.

Gardner shot in on goal with a promising strike with the body of Jermaine Jenas providing welcome respite.

With the clock on 34 minutes there was a leveller of classic simplicity. Wilson Palacios flighted the ball into the area, where Crouch was waiting to knock down and Kranjcar executed a clinical finish.

It had not been the best of halves up this point, but coming out of it relatively unscathed was a definite bonus. Cohen did his best to ensure this was not the case when after anticipating clever work from Kevin Davies and Matt Taylor, he sped into the area and dinked over the on-rushing Cudicini. Thankfully he also dinked over the crossbar.

Then Davies chipped into the area and Taylor was ready to pull the trigger only to be foiled by a smothering save from Cudicini to force a corner.

After a spell of Bolton pressure at the beginning of the second half, Aaron Lennon attempted to take a grip of proceedings with a speedy dash inside from the right, extending Jussi Jaaskelainen, who could only push out as far as Palacios, but the midfielder was distracted in his effort to shoot back on goal.

Crouch came close to adding his name to the scorers when he fired just over following a tee-up from Jermaine Jenas inside the area. Jenas later shot just wide after good work from Vedran Corluka on the right before, on 68 minutes, Defoe was introduced to the action, Keane being the striker withdrawn.

After the balance of the power in the game appeared to be shifting our way, Lee's clever back-heel sent Cohen sprinting in the box and he teased a speculative cross to the far post where Davies stole in front of Benoit Assou-Ekotto to nod home.

All in the stadium thought Crouch had equalised after a Defoe shot came off Jaaskelainen and fell right in the path of the England striker, who struck downwards and the ball came back off the underside of the bar.

We did not have to wait too much longer to be back on level terms as a deep Kranjcar corner was headed back over Jaaskelainen and into the net by Corluka in the 73rd minute.

The Bolton aerial threat was still present and Cudicini had to be alert to deny Taylor from a Davies flick-on.

It really was game on with both teams intent on seeking out a winner, Crouch having a great chance from a Lennon cross that he took down on his chest inside the six yard box but had a touch too many.

Jenas sent Defoe scurrying away moments later, with the little striker thumping wide under pressure from Zak Knight.

It was a frantic finish, but it finished with honours even.

Spurs: Cudicini; Corluka, Bassong, Huddlestone, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Jenas, Palacios, Kranjcar; Keane (Defoe, 68), Crouch. Unused subs: Gomes, Bale, Dawson, Hutton, Naughton, Bentley.