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Reading Royally Outclassed

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Anyone taking a cursory glance at Sunday’s result at White Hart Lane could be excused for assuming the match was a dour encounter decided by a run-of-the-mill penalty. Wrong.

This encounter between Spurs and Reading was more than just a fight for the final UEFA Cup berths. It was about a quest for vengeance after Reading’s convincing win at the Madejski earlier on in the season, it was about Reading out to prove that they were not one season wonders (West Ham and Wigan spring to mind) but a decent footballing unit playing to win. It was about Tottenham turning their backs on their languid start to the season and about Martin Jol justifying his words back in December before these two teams clashed in the first round when he said ‘If we lose to teams like Reading then we are in trouble.’ Events on the pitch were worthy of the significance of the match, of that there is no doubt.

Spurs began the match brightly and could have been 3-0 up by the fifth minute if it wasn’t for some good goalkeeping from the bearded American Marcus Hahnemann. He did well to deny Robbie Keane when the latter was provided with a gilt edge chance by Berbatov’s shrewd ball as the Irishman failed to strike the ball either side of the goal. Malbranque, who was Tottenham’s best player on the night causing the Royals’ defence no end of headaches, hit the post when he was released by Lennon almost immediately after kick off. Reading responded well as Glen Little provided Lita with a free header six yards from goal which the brawny forward contrived to aim at the post (which was a harder feat than hitting the net).

This frantic pace continued throughout the game with Reading unafraid to press forward seeking their wingers more often than not but leaving themselves heavily exposed on the counter. Lennon and Malbranque ruthlessly attacked the spaces left by Reading players supporting their teams attacks. Tottenham’s breakthrough came in the 41st minute when Keane and Halford, making his first premiership start for Reading, were tussling for the ball. Halford managed to get the ball between his thigh and his hand, the contact was there but the intent was not so clear. Alan Wiley blew his whistle and Keane delivered as good a penalty as he has done all season. Spurs were up at the break.

The second half saw Reading fail to make any headway in the Tottenham half and the only reason why the score remained 1-0 was because of wasteful finishing from Berbatov and Defoe. Time and again the Spurs strikers failed to beat Frederici, who by this point had replaced Hahnemann at half time due to the latters rib injury. Despite the modest score line Spurs produced a footballing display packed with verve and creativity showing what is to come when this young team has fully gelled. With some finely tuned finishing Spurs must be taken seriously as one of the contenders for the top four next season, most probably (and hopefully) to the detriment of the self styled kings of beautiful football, Arsenal.

posted by teedoubleyou


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