Pleat feels the heat as Bolton come out firing

Bolton Wanderers 2 Tottenham Hotspur 0
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The Independent Football

David Pleat's popularity among Tottenham supporters will not improve if the last four matches of the season throw up performances as dismal as this. As Bolton pressed confidently towards their highest Premiership finish, the White Hart Lane club's director of football and temporary team manager faces the prospect of fresh calls for his dismissal.

Goals from Ivan Campo and Henrik Pedersen comfortably won the points for Sam Allardyce's team, who could end the season several places higher their previous top-flight best of 16th. Tottenham - with only one point from their last six Premier League matches in their worst run for four years - managed only five goal attempts all game, none of which threatened to succeed.

Their toothless showing served only to spark vocal opposition to Pleat, A growing number of Tottenham fans hold him responsible not only for the nosedive in results during his seven months in temporary charge, but also for the club's failure to find a replacement for Glenn Hoddle.

Speaking afterwards, Pleat did not mention his own future but admitted the players are concerned over theirs. "Morale is okay but there is a lack of confidence," he said. "We are in a dogfight for which we are all responsible, and for the younger players in particular it is a big challenge."

With justification, Pleat blamed "two mistakes" for Tottenham's downfall, though he might have thought it pertinent to mention the lack of fight as well. Leaden-footed at the back, his side were dealt a setback as early as the eighth minute. Jay-Jay Okocha squared to Campo, who was unmarked 20 yards from goal and with time to pick his spot. He beat Keller before a single Tottenham defender had responded.

Tottenham were pinned in their own half by Bolton's adventurous 4-3-3 formation and could have conceded again soon after. Keller's reach denied Kevin Nolan's chip, and only a risky challenge from behind by Ledley King stopped Kevin Davies letting fly with just the keeper to beat.

Mauricio Taricco had been nursing thigh and calf injuries, but Pleat was sufficiently concerned about Tottenham's defending to press him into service in the second half. Anthony Gardner moved from left-back to central defence and King pushed forward into midfield, replacing Gus Poyet.

But Bolton continued to press and Keller had to make a fingertip save when Okocha's free-kick curled past Tottenham's defensive wall.

Pleat tinkered again with a little under half an hour left. Off went Jamie Redknapp, Tottenham's captain and central midfielder, on went Robbie Keane, the Republic of Ireland striker, although the service to the front men remained negligible.

In the event, a goal soon followed -- but for Bolton, who moved into the comfort of a two-goal advantage when Pedersen struck his ninth of the season and his fourth in five games.

Again, Pleat was holding up his hands in despair at a defensive howler, this time by Gardner. He looked set to cut out Djorkaeff's pass but sloppily allowed the Danish forward to win the ball and go past him.

If Pleat's mood was grim, his counterpart could not have been more uplifted. "It was a fabulous performance," Allar-dyce said. "Everything from start to finish was spot-on."

Bolton Wanderers 2 Tottenham Hotspur 0
Campo 8, Pedersen 65

Half-time 1-0 Attendance: 26,440