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Late strikes not enough

Posted on 6 November 2010  - 12:00

A late revival wasn't enough as Bolton ran out 4-2 winners at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.

Late strikes not enough

A late revival wasn't enough as Bolton ran out 4-2 winners at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.

Alan Hutton and Roman Pavlyuchenko netted spectacular goals in the 79th and 87th minutes as we hauled ourselves back into the game from 3-0 down.

But as we pushed for the equaliser, Bolton caught us on the break in the fourth minute of added time as substitute Martin Petrov wrapped up the points for the home side.

Yet to win a league fixture at this venue, that particular run did not look likely to end as Owen Coyle's men snapped into their work from the off and built up a three-goal advantage before Jussi Jaaskelainen was really tested.

Harry Redknapp made four changes for this encounter on a bright and breezy early afternoon in the North West, but there was nearly a little chill factor in the opening minute when Kevin Davies couldn't quite latch onto a forward ball and it ended up falling very kindly for Matt Taylor in front of goal. Thankfully his shot was high and wide.

It was a big chance for the central midfield combination of Wilson Palacios and Sandro to shine, the duo being flanked by Gareth Bale on the left and the returning Niko Kranjcar on the right. Luka Modric tucked in behind Peter Crouch in attack.

A piece of now typical Bale opportunism nearly created an opening for the advanced Kranjcar - a scorer here last season - on six minutes.

Modric then showed superb vision to set Bale on the charge but his cross was miscued to the delight of the probably fearful home fans.

Modric and Palacios moments later carved out an opportunity for Sandro but Jaaskelainen was not worked.

Johan Elmander's low cross was just missed by both Davies and Stuart Holden as Bolton stepped up the tempo towards the midway point of the half, while Taylor proceeded to warm the hands of Heurelho Gomes was a shot from distance.

A superbly flighted cross from Bale into the head of Crouch came close to unlocking a resolute home guard, but the cushioned header did not quite reach Modric.

Gomes saved superbly at the other end, a Gretar Steinsson inswinging cross clipped the head of Elmander with the keeper clawing away from danger.

Moments later at the half-hour mark, Gomes could not keep out a low Davies effort that came about as a result of giving the ball away in a dangerous area and the referee's assistant not spotting a clear offside.

Sandro lost possession and the ball was slipped through to Davies, who turned and planted a low shot, but the striker was offside on receiving the ball.

Modric picked out the run of Bale seven minutes before the break and the man in the news dispatched a low cross that just evaded Crouch via a deflection off Gary Cahill.

Jaaskelainen saved from Alan Hutton and the rebound came very close to falling kindly for Crouch before, in the next passage of play, Younes Kaboul shot wastefully over.

Roman Pavlyuchenko made his entrance after the break in place of Palacios. Modric dropped back into central midfield with Sandro, with Pav slotting in up top alongside Crouch as a more traditional 4-4-2 was formed.

Bale struck the upright from a free-kick after Sandro was crudely hacked by Paul Robinson after a short spell of Bolton pressure was weathered and a little momentum crept back into play.

Gomes, however, was called on to make a vital block with his legs to deny Elmander before Cahill fired narrowly wide from the edge of the area.

The advantage was doubled in the 56th minute when Elmander cut the ball back inside the area to Steinsson and the full-back delivered a low and telling shot into the back of the net.

A Hutton cross should perhaps have been netted by Sandro as the team attempted to mount a response.

With 30 minutes left on the clock, Tom Huddlestone was drafted into action to replace the Brazilian and take over alongside Modric.

Elmander remained a threat and rattled the side netting from a Taylor corner before Kranjcar could not keep his effort down at the other end after being set up by Pavlyuchenko.

Taylor struck the post after connecting with a Huddlestone attempted clearance and then Fabrice Muamba shot just wide after taking advantage of defensive uncertainty.

In the next move Benoit Assou-Ekotto was adjudged to have fouled Lee and referee Mr Foy pointed to the spot. Davies calmly made it 3-0.

It was one-way traffic now with Bolton seeking further goals - David Bentley came on for Kranjcar for the last 12 minutes or so to mark his return after a lengthy absence.

Then came an absolutely superb goal from Hutton, cutting in from the right and curling into the top corner with his left foot.

It was a lovely strike, but the scoreline prevented any real celebrations.

A teasing Bentley cross should have been attacked with a little more gusto by the forwards, but one of them more than made up for it with three minutes left.

A corner was headed up into the air by Steinsson and, from an angle, Pavlyuchenko smashed in a volley that Jaaskelainen just didn't see as it flew past him.

In seeking a leveller, the speedy Petrov caught the team on the hop and raced onto Davies' flick before slotting past Gomes to make it 4-2.

Bolton (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Gretar Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Robinson; Holden, Muamba, CY Lee, Taylor; Davies, Elmander. Subs: Bogdan, Petrov, Davies, Klasnic, Ricketts, Rodrigo, Blake.

Spurs (4-4-1-1): Gomes; Hutton, Kaboul, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto; Kranjcar, Palacios, Sandro, Bale; Modric; Crouch. Subs: Cudicini, Corluka, Bassong, Bentley, Huddlestone, Jenas, Pavlyuchenko.

Goals: Bolton - Kevin Davies 31, Steinsson 56, Kevin Davies 76 pen, Petrov 90. Spurs - Hutton 79, Pavlyuchenko 87.

Attendance: 20,255.

Referee: Mr C Foy (Merseyside).