The last time Martin Jol took his Tottenham side to these parts a month ago he saw Pedro Mendes's shot at Old Trafford ruled out after landing a foot behind the goal line, since when Spurs have not managed a win in the Premiership. Last night Jol saw his side damned by two more refereeing decisions - the dismissal of Frederic Kanoute and a penalty awarded for handball against Erik Edman as he went for a header with Kevin Davies that El Hadji Diouf converted three minutes after the interval.
"It was incredibly harsh, considering the type of game it was," Jol's assistant, Chris Hughton, said afterwards.
Tottenham had no complaints about the second yellow shown to Kanoute but found the first for dissent after what was, ironically, a claim for handball in the Bolton area teeth-grindingly frustrating.
In Bolton, Tottenham were unfortunate to encounter a club confident enough to punish any lapses and this they did to seal a sixth successive victory. First Tal Ben Haim headed home a corner and then Davies finished a flowing move that exposed Tottenham's defence to crown a fine performance.
Tottenham, who will sign the midfielder Tom Huddlestone from Derby for pounds 2.5m in the summer, had clawed their way back into the contest in the wake of Diouf's penalty and, three minutes after coming on, Jermain Defoe seized on a ball from Robbie Keane, turned his marker, Ivan Campo, and shot in one movement. Defoe's speed of thought deserved a goal, although Jussi Jaaskelainen allowed a straightforward shot through his body.
Bolton now find themselves back within shooting distance of a European place, although their manager, Sam Allardyce, thought their best chance of Uefa Cup football lay with the FA Cup. "You don't want to make predictions," he said. "I thought we had a reasonable set of fixtures in December and we lost every blinking one."
Allardyce added that he was glad the Reebok crowd had been given a flourish to warm them on their way home after the mundanity of what had gone before. The sheer dreadfulness of much of the contest can be gauged from the fact that a general groan went up around the stadium when the fourth official indicated that there were four minutes of first-half stoppage time. Compared to the on-pitch fare, the prospect of a half-time pie must have seemed like an invitation to a four-course meal prepared by Jamie Oliver.
Bolton Wanderers: (4-1-3-2) Jaaskelainen; Barness (Fadiga, 77), Ben Haim, N'Gotty, Gardner; Campo; Giannakopoulos (Hierro, 88), Nolan, Speed; Diouf, Davies (Pedersen, 90). Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Jaidi.
Tottenham Hotspur: (4-4-2) Robinson; Kelly, King, Gardner, Edman (Defoe, 63); Davies, Carrick, Brown, Atouba; Kanoute, Keane. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Bunjevcevic, Mido, Marney.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).Reuse content