Spurs chalk up record as Coyle rues sending off
Tottenham 3 Bolton 0
TOTTENHAM supporters of a particular vintage continue to wait for something to go wrong. Experience tells them it has to happen, and maybe it would in a game like this, which had been billed as a home banker. Except that Harry Redknapp's team just keep on rolling. These are golden times for everyone connected to the club.
It was Bolton for whom everything went wrong. Owen Coyle, the manager, led the protests over the 17th-minute dismissal of Gary Cahill for a professional foul on Scott Parker and it was impossible not to feel for him. It was a ludicrous decision.
Tottenham, though, were a cut above and they equalled a club record by registering an 11th Premier League match without defeat. Ten of them have been victories. It very quickly became a question of how many Tottenham would score and, were it not for the heroics of the Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, they would have won by six or seven. Redknapp made the point that Tottenham were in front and in control at the time of the sending-off, but the decision still undermined the contest.
There was palpable shock when Stuart Attwell flashed the red card and it provided the hottest post-match talking point. Cahill, a transfer target for Tottenham, had lost the ball to Parker, lunged in and brought him down.
Parker, though, was 45 yards out, was not making directly for goal, was towards the left wing and Bolton had defenders covering in the middle.
Apart from that, Attwell got it spot on. A raging Coyle marched on to the field at half-time to confront the referee. "I just asked him the question: 'Did you feel that was a clear goalscoring opportunity?'" Coyle said. "If somebody is 50 yards from goal -- even if he was the only man on the pitch -- it would still be difficult to say that it was a clear goalscoring opportunity. It really was baffling and it gave us a mountain to climb. I will appeal against the red card as soon as I'm allowed to. I would have put the appeal in before the game was finished. If that's not overturned, it would be incredible."
The result and performance did little to allay Bolton's relegation worries. Tottenham's start was blistering and it was symbolised by man-of-the-match Gareth Bale, who had the added motivation of wanting to honour the memory of Gary Speed, his friend and manager with Wales. Bale was emotional during the pre-match minute's applause and was able to offer a personal tribute early on.
Luka Modric's driven low corner caught Bolton sleeping and Bale was allowed to sneak into space at the near post and flick a shot goalwards, which Jaaskelainen allowed to slip underneath him. It was a dreadful goal for Bolton to concede. Bale removed his yellow and orange scoring boot and held it up to the crowd. Stitched into the lining was the message: RIP Gary Speed.
The red card that came 10 minutes later was Bolton's fifth in the Premier League this season and it confirmed the feeling that everything is going against them. "It's not a feeling, it's a fact," Coyle said. Even Redknapp sympathised, describing the decision as "very harsh".
The Tottenham manager was worried that his team only had Bale's goal to show for their first-half dominance -- Jaaskelainen made a string of fine saves, the best a double block from Bale and Jermain Defoe - but once Aaron Lennon cut inside to slot the second, Redknapp could enjoy the afternoon.
There was further controversy when Attwell ruled that Kevin Davies had not clipped Benoit Assou-Ekotto inside the penalty area but Tottenham scored shortly afterwards: Bale met another Modric corner for Defoe to turn home.
Sunday Indo Sport