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Wonder strike settles tense affair!

Posted on 1 May 2010  - 12:00

Tom Huddlestone's first half thunderbolt was enough to give us a crucial three points in a massive 1-0 victory over Bolton at the Lane.

Wonder strike settles tense affair!

Tom Huddlestone's first half thunderbolt was enough to give us a crucial three points in a massive 1-0 victory over Bolton at the Lane.

The win keeps us in pole position in the race for fourth place with what looks to be a decisive encounter with Manchester City coming up at Eastlands on Wednesday.

Harry Redknapp reverted back to the system that proved so successful in our famous back-to-back London derby victories over Arsenal and Chelsea last month, following last weekend's defeat at Manchester United.

Huddlestone and Luka Modric were the central midfield pairing with Gareth Bale in a more advanced position on the left of midfield.

It meant Benoit Assou-Ekotto switched to back to his more familiar left-back role, with Younes Kaboul returning on the opposite flank and Wilson Palacios making way.

Ledley King was deemed fit enough to skipper the side from the start and there was again places on the bench for fit-again Aaron Lennon and Jermaine Jenas.

With so much riding on this game, it could have been expected that the first half would be a tense and nervy affair with little created by way of chances.

Openings appeared for Modric and Roman Pavlyuchenko, while Bale was the first to work Jussi Jaaskelainen, but you could sense it would take something special to break the deadlock.

It came on 38 minutes when a corner was worked to Assou-Ekotto on the edge of the box, and he in turn did well to find space to tee up Huddlestone 25 yards out for a piledriver that was always going away from the keeper, right into the postage stamp of the goal.

A truly tremendous strike that banished many of the nerves of both fans and players alike and gave everyone a lift. As we have a found on a number of occasions this season, the opening goal is so key.

With Michael Dawson having one of the games of his life at the back alongside King, Bolton were offering little going forward, and it was the England hopeful who closed down Ivan Klasnic to render their only real opening of the half meaningless just before the break.

The second half saw both teams come out of their shell far more - Bolton because they had to, us because we knew 1-0 is never a safe advantage.

And we looked the more likely to get the game's second goal overall, especially during a frantic 10 minute spell following the hour mark.

Jermain Defoe curled a decent shot inches wide, Pavlyuchenko headed Kaboul's centre wide at the near post when he should have done better, Jaaskelainen made an excellent save from Bale and someone should have been there to tap home the Welshman's low centre after another marauding run down the left.

At the other end, Bolton were far more aggressive, but Dawson especially was equal to everything thrown at him and Heurelho Gomes was strong in dealing with every high ball that came into the box.

There was one scare on 68 minutes when Jack Wilshere ran out our defence, forcing them to back off, and slid in Johan Elmander, who beat Gomes and laid back for Matt Taylor to have a shot at an unguarded goal. But there was Kaboul to make a vital block on the line.

Lennon was introduced for another cameo soon after to give the crowd another lift, and Pavlyuchenko was only inches away from connecting with Bale's volleyed centre 10 minutes from time to settle the game.

A downward header from sub Peter Crouch was blocked on the line by Chung-Yong Lee as we picked up the tempo again in the latter stages.

Crouch also showed a bit of magic to weave his way in off the right and force Jaaskelainen into a full stretch save with a minute to go.

But Gomes was also called into action late on when he dived to his left to parry away Taylor's volleyed effort from the edge of the box when a corner was cleared to him.

However, it wasn't a happy ending for our goalkeeper has he pulled up holding his groin in stoppage time. With all three subs used by then, he had to remain in goal, and luckily he had no further work to do.

So, overall, it was far from our best performance, but it was functional enough to do the job that was needed and give our fans the perfect send-off for the final time at the Lane this season.

Two defining away games left...

Spurs (4-4-2): Gomes; Kaboul, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto; Bentley (Lennon, 74), Huddlestone, Modric, Bale; Defoe (Crouch, 72), Pavlyuchenko (Gudjohnsen, 87)
Subs not used: Alnwick, Bassong, Jenas, Palacios

Bolton (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Robinson; Weiss (Lee, 61), Muamba (Gardner, 79), Wilshere, Taylor; K Davies, Klasnic (Elmander, 61)
Subs not used: Al Habsi, Ricketts, Samuel, M Davies