Tottenham's good fortune in meeting another opposing club not bothered about winning the Worthington Cup last night paved the way for a stroll into the semi-final, with every prospect of continuing all the way into Europe. As in the previous round against Fulham, Spurs found themselves up against a side littered with reserves, who received just desserts in conceding four goals including Les Ferdinand's nine-minute headed hat-trick by half-time.
Bolton's Sam Allardyce was not the only manager to admit that the Premiership was his priority, or even to acknowledge that his team would not be ready for European football even if they won this competition. But the squad that managed to squeeze past Walsall (just) was hardly likely to cope with Tottenham's strongest available selection Dean Richards was ineligible and Christian Ziege injured and so it proved. Having been beaten on the same ground a week ago only by Teddy Sheringham's last-minute goal, Allardyce may have been guilty of over-estimating how far the club have progressed in an unexpectedly good start to their Premiership campaign.
"I apologise to our fans who made the journey, but I hope they understand our priorities," he said, adding of his eight reserves: "I picked a side I thought could win tonight." It was just as well he did not pick one to lose. Not surprisingly, Tottenham soon had the visiting imposters in trouble and Sheringham, who gave another master-class in directing the attack, might have scored in the first 10 seconds.
Then the 35 year-old Ferdinand took over. In the 21st minute he set up Simon Davies, who had abundant room to score from 15 yards. Eight minutes later, Spurs players won three successive headers from Davies's long throw, Ledley King and Sheringham nodding on as the defence nodded off, and Ferdinand nodding in. Within 60 seconds Ferdinand had his second, stooping bravely to flick in Darren Anderton's whipped cross, and eight minutes later he completed one of the quickest hat-tricks in the club's history by meeting a Davies cross at the far post.
By half-time it could easily have been 6-0, Jussi Jaaskelainen holding King's late flick and just reaching Anderton's drive, then receiving a yellow card for disputing the resulting corner kick. It was not the goalkeeper's night, though it was very much Tottenham's, as confirmed by the next scoreline flashed up, from Arsenal's tie.
Allardyce, with no shortage of contenders to be replaced at the interval, chose to dispense with Colin Hendry's defensive partner, Bruno N'Gotty, who had hardly won a ball in 45 minutes, and the equally ineffective striker Akinori Nishizawa. That was a disappointment for the Japanese media contingent who have spent most of the season elsewhere in north London, waiting with heroic patience for Arsène Wenger to select Junichi Inamoto.
Ferdinand was also withdrawn, to give a run to Sergei Rebrov, whose cross Anthony Barness slid into his own net for a suitably farcical fifth goal 11 minutes from time. Another substitute, Steffen Iversen, drove in the sixth as the second half tailed off into irrelevance something the Worthington Cup is in increasing danger of doing, Uefa Cup place or not.
Tottenham Hotspur (3-5-2): Sullivan; King, Perry, Gardner; Davies, Anderton, Freund, Poyet (Sherwood, 70), Taricco; Sheringham (Iversen, 66), Ferdinand (Rebrov, h-t). Substitutes not used: Keller (gk), Thelwell.
Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen: Southall, N'Gotty (Whitlow, h-t), Hendry, Barness; Pedersen, Johnson, Frandsen (Wallace, 66), Farrelly; Nishizawa (Gardner, h-t), Holdsworth. Substitutes not used: Viander (gk), Ricketts.
Referee: G Barber (Tring).Reuse content