Football: Armstong erases painful memories
Wednesday 24 September 1997
The Reebok Stadium finally saw its first goal last night, Alan Thompson's early penalty giving Bolton hope of gaining their inaugural victory here. But the hi-tech venue also witnessed an old fashioned game of two halves, and Chris Armstrong's first Premiership goal for 10 months rewarded Tottenham for a surprisingly spirited display after the break.
Spurs can justifiably feel that they settled a score, mainly the 6-1 embarrassment Bolton inflicted on them at Burnden Park in the Coca-Cola Cup last November. Minus four injured internationals, as well as David Howells, they must have feared a repeat in the opening 45 minutes.
Nathan Blake, showing no signs of being inhibited by his dismissal against Manchester United, waged a one-man battle with Ian Walker. A diving save by the foot of the post frustrated the striker after seven minutes, while the woodwork itself denied Thompson, whose 25-yard drive shook the underside of the bar.
Bolton supporters' suspicions that their new home might be jinxed were evenutally laid to rest midway through the first half. After exactly 200 minutes action at the ground, Peter Beardsley and Blake worked a one-two which sent the latter surging through the centre.
Blake had reached the six-yard area when Justin Edinburgh tackled him from behind. The left-back, sent off at Arsenal earlier this month, was relieved when Mr Rennie reached for the yellow card rather than the red. Thompson, burying the spot-kick to Walker's left as the keeper went right, exacted a punishment of no less severity.
Walker then used his legs to block from Scott Sellars before Spurs, overloaded with defenders and jinking wingers, belatedly stirred Kevin Branagan from his spectator's role on half-time.
David Ginola hit the side netting after a weaving run, but the effort underlined the precarious nature of Bolton's lead.
The introduction of Armstrong gave the visitors the balance and the focal point they had been lacking, and it was against the run of play when Bolton threatened again. Beardsley dispossessed the previously imperious Sol Campbell to set up Blake, who bludgeoned the ball inches wide.
When the infuriatingly mercurial Ginola wasted a rare Spurs corner, Ramon Vega made his displeasure known, as did Gerry Francis' No 2, Roger Cross. The home crowd's jeers proved premature - with 18 minutes remaining, the Frenchman crossed for Armstrong to head in at the back post and ease the memory of a year of injury problems.
Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Branagan; Bergsson, Fish, Taggart, Whitlow; Pollock, Frandsen, Thompson, Sellars; Blake, Beardsley. Substitutes not used: Johansen, Todd, McAnespie, Gunnlaugsson, Ward (gk).
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Carr, Campbell, Mabbutt, Edinburgh (Vega, h-t); Fox, Calderwood (Nielsen, 87), Clemence, Ginola; Dominguez, Mahorn (Armstrong, h-t). Substitutes not used: Wilson, Bardsen (gk).
Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield).
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