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+The Monday Verdict

Posted on 25 October 2004  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

A new feature for the Spurs Lodge website - a hopefully considered and occasionally offbeat look at our weekend game, starting with Saturday's visit of Bolton to the Lane.

THERE WAS ONLY one man on the minds of virtually all at the Lane ahead of the clash with Bolton on Saturday - and rightly so.

Bill Nicholson OBE passed away early in the morning and a sombre atmosphere descended on the ground as supporters laid their tributes outside the stadium. The men who played under our greatest ever manager and Club President were on hand to pay tribute and pitchside presenter Brian Alexander spoke to a host of names from the Bill Nick era including Martin Chivers, Ralph Coates, Martin Peters, Phil Beal and Pat Jennings.

Ledley King then summed up the mood on being presented with his Barclays Player of the Month award when asked what the name Bill Nicholson means to him. "A name that means everything to everyone at Tottenham and we are determined to go out and put on a performance for him."

There then followed a particularly moving tribute to music on the jumbotron and there could hardly have been a dry eye in the Lane.

A few minutes to three and the encounter with Bolton remained something of an after-thought and it was applause rather than a roar that welcomed the teams onto the pitch. It was a day for respect, reflection and recognition of a lifetime filled with achievement. And a win, if at all possible.

A one-minute silence was impeccably observed by all in the stadium and Bill's old players also took their place on the pitch as the rain fell.

The show must go on and there were changes to the team defeated at Portsmouth on Monday. Jamie Redknapp returned from suspension in place of Michael Brown, Johnnie Jackson stepped in for the injured Thimothee Atouba, while Jermain Defoe took a well earned rest with Jacques electing to start with Fredi Kanoute and Robbie Keane in attack.

There was good news sitting on the bench in the shape of Sean Davis - happily recovered from knee problems after missing six games. Reto Ziegler, given ten minutes against Everton three weeks ago, was also given a place on the bench.

Play the game and not the occasion is the advice generally given on days like this and the boys appeared to be struggling to get into their collective stride in the first ten minutes or so.

Jay Jay Okocha occasionally dazzled but the first meaningful action led to Bolton taking the lead on 11 minutes. A Gary Speed free-kick from the right was floated in and, for once, Paul Robinson was not there first and Radhi Jaidi nodded into the net.

On 24 minutes there was half a chance of a leveller when Redknapp lofted a free-kick into the area that Jussi Jaaskelainen just failed to clutch. The ball ran loose to Jackson, who was set drive home but the keeper bravely redeemed himself by smothering the midfielder's effort. The lively Kanoute then forced another save out of the Finnish keeper on 32 minutes.

There was a real quickening of the tempo in the ten minutes leading into the break and and on 40 minutes Robbie Keane fired in his first Premiership goal of the season through the legs of Jaaskelainen following a superb return pass from Kanoute.

The opening minutes of the second period retained a similar tempo to the closing stages of the first, Noe Pamarot with a head wound to show for his efforts following a coming together with the boot of Stelios Giannakopoulos.

The emotional shackles were slowly lifting from the crowd as the need to vocally drive the team towards potential victory became apparent - plus the sight of two generations of Spurs strikers warming up, Les Ferdinand and Jermain Defoe, was bound to raise a cheer.

It was Bolton who nearly took the lead again just after the hour mark when a hook back into the danger area from Kevin Davies led to a smart volley back across goal by Stelios that must have been only inches wide. Redknapp then drilled a free kick into the wall after Keane was felled right on the edge of the area.

Cue Defoe on 70 minutes, on in place of Jackson with Keane switching to the left flank. The game was still very much in the balance, but it was Bolton who stole the lead again after 73 minutes with a goal from sub Henrik Pedersen - although not before Robinson made a fine double save from Okocha and Stelios.

Defoe nearly levelled with a rasping free-kick before Jacques made his second change with the introduction of Davis for Redknapp. Kanoute's header hit the post from a Mendes cross and then the Head Coach played his final card, bringing on Ziegler for Davies.

Defoe twisted and turned, Keane and Kanoute remained lively, but the Bolton rearguard remained resolute.

It was not a fitting result to mark the passing of Bill Nick but it would take more than three points to do the great man justice, although it would have been nice.