Davies double helps Megson build bridges at Wanderers
Bolton Wanderers 3 Tottenham Hotspur 2
Sunday 01 February 2009
If Rafael Benitez is cracking up, what about Gary Megson? In the space of six days last week he moaned about the press, the fans and, if you read between the lines, the board. Ifanyone displayed hairline fracture lines last week it appeared to be the Bolton Wanderers manager.
At least Megson will be soothed this morning after his team ushered themselves nearer to the safety of mid-table while inflicting a defeat on fellow strugglers Tottenham Hotspur yesterday. That is when his stretched-too-tight nerves have relaxed to a level others would describe as high anxiety. It was not easy watching. Bolton appeared to be heading for an easy victory when Sébastien Puygrenier and Kevin Davies gave them a 2-0 lead but Megson, prowling nervously on the touchline, had to endure his side surrendering a two-goal lead for the second time in three days when Darren Bent scored twice in two minutes for Spurs. This time there was a happier ending, Kevin Davies getting the winner with three minutes to go.
Megson admitted he feared the worst at 2-2. "All the emotions were going through my head," he said. "You're thinking: 'It's one of those days. We've lost the momentum now and we would get beat'. Thankfully we regrouped and overall I think it was a deserved victory."
He also thanked the fans, admitting he had made a mistake when he called supporters "pathetic" for their reaction during the 2-2 draw with Blackburn on Wednesday. "It was about 25 people who started it who were joined by some kids," he said.
"Today was a massive, massive bonus. At 2-2 the support stayed with us and got even better, enabling us to keep playing and not go into our shells. The crowd played a big, big part in our winning today."
Megson refused to expand on his disappointment over the selling of Kevin Nolan to Newcastle United for £4 million, but his reaction was to make Kevin Davies captain and the decision was rewarded by a stellar performance from his centre-forward.
Within nine minutes Davies used his strength to discomfort the Spurs defence, heading just over. Then the closest thing Bolton have to a latter-day Nat Lofthouse guided a header into the path of new signing Ariza Makukula only for the on-loanstriker to slice his shot wide.
Tottenham were clearly struggling in the air and that route provided a goal. Bolton's £1m signing from Wolves, Mark Davies, floated in a free-kick that begged a header and Puygrenier duly obliged from six yards.
It had been such a supine display by Tottenham, Harry Redknapp was bound to make changes and Didier Zokora and Luka Modric were withdrawn at the interval, Darren Bent and Jermaine Jenas coming on. That sparked an improvement but became a prelude to Bolton's second goal.
Benoît Assou-Ekotto handled, and although Matt Taylor's free-kick was abject, Jlloyd Samuel put over a long cross. Gary Cahill headed on and Kevin Davies side-footed past CarloCudicini from a narrow angle.
It seemed Bolton had the match won but Tottenham staged an unlikely comeback. Pascal Chimbonda darted to the byline before pulling the ball back for Bent and Chimbonda was involved again in the build-up to Spurs' second, Bent converting the rebound after an athletic shot from Wilson Palacios. "I certainly didn't think we'd lose it," Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, said. "At 2-2 there was only going to be one winner. How were they 2-0 up? What had they done? They'd had only two shots at goal."
Tottenham sensed an unlikely win, but it went to their opponents.Taylor delivered an inswinging corner from the right and Kevin Davies headed in at the near post. It even brought a smile to Megson's face.
Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the match: K Davies
Match rating: 7/10
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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