At last Sam Allardyce has something to smile about again. Overlooked for the England job and with his playing staff showing more outs than ins, Bolton's manager found much to savour in this well-merited victory.
Against a bitterly disappointing Tottenham, Bolton took this first step to dismantling the gloomier predictions surrounding them by scoring twice in the first 13 minutes, stunningly so on the second occasion through Ivan Campo.
It seems to be business as usual, with the links between Allardyce and the Sunderland manager's job rubbished by club and individual alike. Spurs will have to improve substantially to make any impact on Europe. "They were stronger than us physically and the first goal showed that,'' said a downbeat Spurs manager, Martin Jol. "It's very difficult to play against them and break them down. You need two or three Lennons.''
The line-ups provided further evidence of what a global product the Premiership has become - alas, the ninth-minute breakthrough was a reminder of one of the sport's less desirable traits. Kevin Davies' emphatic header to Gary Speed's near-post right-wing corner appeared to be trademark Bolton but replays showed a shirt-pull by Abdoulaye Meite on the striker's marker Callum Davenport, with Meite in turn having his jersey tugged by another debutant, Dimitar Berbatov.
The follow-up was truly spectacular. Davenport and Jermaine Jenas attempted clearances from a Bolton attack through the middle and the ball broke for Campo to strike a low, right-foot shot of such power and swerve that it beat acting captain Paul Robinson, the England keeper moving initially to his left and readjusting too late in the opposite direction.
Sky TV's claim that the shot travelled 43 yards to its destination brought the only smile of Jol's press conference. But Allardyce said: "That's our goal of the season already. It was an absolutely terrific daisy-clipper. I couldn't have asked for more. We made Tottenham look very ordinary. We've had such a disruptive build-up and I upset the players by bringing them in this morning to practise set-pieces on the pitch.''
Tottenham's first riposte came when the otherwise anonymous Jermain Defoe tested Jussi Jaaskelainen from the edge of the area - a save bettered by Robinson when Speed curled a 25-yard free-kick towards the far corner.
Tottenham, now beaten on five successive trips to the Reebok, started the second half with Aaron Lennon switching to the left from a position just behind the front two.
He quickly cut in following a link-up between Spurs' new £8m Ivory Coast midfielder Didier Zokora and Berbatov, and produced a low shot that was well blocked by Tal Ben Haim. Kevin Nolan went closer still with a side-foot that bounced inches wide from a partially cleared cross by Ricardo Vaz Te.
Despite Robbie Keane's introduction in place of an obviously displeased Zokora, Bolton threatened a third when only a magnificent reflex tip-over by Robinson denied El Hadji Diouf's header.
Spurs remained likely to concede again although Jaaskelainen brilliantly dived at the feet of Berbatov as the Bulgarian shaped to take Keane's pass round him.Reuse content