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Reading v Spurs , 01.08.2001

This fine report, exclusively for Spurs Odyssey, comes from Jonathan Adelman. Thanks very much Jon!

WEDNESDAY 1ST AUGUST, 2001
FRIENDLY FIXTURE
READING 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)

Scorers:-
Poyet
Rebrov

Attendance: 21,874

Spurs (3-5-2):- 1 Sullivan;2 Carr,3 Doherty,4 Freund,5 Bunjevcevic,6 King,7 Anderton,8 Poyet,9 Ferdinand,10 Ziege,11 Rebrov

Subs not used: Kelly, Clemence, Tarrico, Perry, Iversen, Davies, Leonhardsen, Sherwood.

Reading (4-4-2):- 1 Whitehead,2 Whitbread,3 Robinson,4 Viveash (Igoe, 67),5 Parkinson(Gamble, 67),6 Williams,7 Rougier(Henderson, 78),8 Harper,9 Butler(Fashanu, 82),10 Murty (Casper, 82),11 Smith

The Madejski Stadium was apparently sold out last night although there were a number of empty seats around the ground the South Stand where the Spurs fans were sat was packed out with about 6,000 with a fair smattering of "Holsten" shirts elsewhere in the ground. The nearly 22,000 that battled through heavy traffic to the ground were rewarded with a display of pure football the likes of which I have not witnessed from a Spurs team in many many years, if ever. Now I appreciate of course that this was a pre-season game against 2nd Division opposition but the fluidity, instinctive ness and incisiveness of our passing movements, especially in the second half were truly a joy to watch. Only the brilliance of the Reading keeper, Whitehead, saved Reading from a serious hiding.

Paul Smith will also be gutted to learn that shirt sleeves were well in truly in order again! (Ed - I was enjoying a cool beer by a lake in Switzerland at the time!)

Spurs lined up with Sullivan in goal and a back three of Doherty on the right of Bunjevcevic, with King on the left of the three centre backs. Carr and Ziege were employed as wing backs. Freund took the holding role in midfield and Anderton and Poyet the more creative roles of the central trio. Rebrov was up front, dropping off Ferdinand. The team that started the game also finished it apparently so that Glenn could assess the fitness levels of players and he has intimated that a different team will be employed at Millwall on Saturday for the same reason. The one surprise in the line ups was that Teddy Sheringham was not even on the bench and this was apparently because of a slight calf strain.

Whilst Spurs went with a 3-5-2, Reading played a flat back four and whilst my distance from the pitch made it tricky to know who was who in the Reading team the early exchanges demonstrated that Reading have some useful quick forward players who move well and can dribble. In the first half they were allowed to dictate play in the midfield although only once did this lead to a concrete chance but Sullivan was off his line quickly and whilst Harper steered the ball away from Sully, Doherty out-paced the striker to the ball and shielded it out for a goal kick. The game was quite hard fought and if it had not been a friendly I'm sure a few yellow cards would have been brandished. Doherty himself was fairly physical tonight - but didn't lose a single tackle, he looks like picking up from where he left off last season. He is no doubt a centre back in my view and the back three last night looked comfortable as a unit and the level of passing from the back was very impressive, although Bunjee's longer range passing was a bit off colour until the second half.

Whitehead pulled of his first top class save to deny Poyet after about 20 minutes but five minutes later he was left very exposed when a lovely ball from Bunjee to Les found the big man on the half way line back to goal, Les executed a great body roll and raced away from his marker in to the ball. Rather than lash a hopeful shot from a tightish angle, he checked and slid the ball square for Poyet who stroked the ball home. Poyet's runs from deep on the blind side are frequent and as the game wore on the knowledge of where he, Carr and Ziege would be led to some breathtaking one touch passing moves with the ball being swept back and forth across the pitch without the players seeming to look up to check that their team mate was there - poor Reading barely touched the ball in the second half! We seem to have worked hard on the art of retaining the ball and that will be a vital component to improving out dismal away form from last season.

Anyway, back to the game.... and on to Darren Anderton who in my opinion made us tick last night. In the early stages he was deployed in an advanced role and did a lot of tackling but we had a minor and subtle reshuffle at the break and in the second half Dazza played deeper and suddenly we controlled the midfield and he dominated the game spraying long and short passes all over the field and linking beautifully with Carr, Ziege, Poyet and Rebrov for intricate one-two's. Dazza also had a couple of excellent efforts very well saved by Whitehead, one from a free kick and one in the second half from a volley outside the box which seemed destined for the bottom corner.

Whitehead had previously produced a truly superb reaction save just before the break from a 10 yards out Ferdinand volley that should by rights have ripped the netting from the goal!

Midway through the second half one of the passing moves was nearly rewarded with a fine goal, this time Ziege was the beneficiary of a lightening move involving Poyet, Carr, Anderton and Rebrov ended with Ziege meeting a cross first time with a rasping drive that Whitehead tipped over.

Then it was Poyet's turn to get in on the act, meeting a Carr cross with a diving header which he really should have hit the target with but he nearly made amends a moment later when he played a cheeky one-two with Les who sprinted towards the box but dragged his effort wide.

Rebrov was looking really sharp and so obviously thrives on the type of football we now try and play that he must think he is at a different club! He was always buzzing in and around the box and had a couple of snap shots one of which led to a corner from which Ziege found Bunjee who send a header towards the top corner only to see Whitehead finger-tip the ball onto the bar and post and then wide. Rebrov however grabbed the deserved second moments before the end with a super goal and one that demonstrated I think why Ziege will be a good buy for us. Bear in mind the 90 minutes are almost up and the ball is being knocked about by Reading on the half way line. Ziege makes a 15 yard run to intercept a pass, dispossesses the Reading man, sprints 30 yards deep in to the Reading half holding off two challenges before picking out Rebrov with a perfect left foot pass which Rebrov received with a jink to his right before leathering the ball from 20 yards back the other way across the keeper in to the bottom corner.

A very convincing performance all in all and one where we got a hint of the kind of football this group of players in capable of. Another final and pleasing note was that after a lacklustre first half Stevie Carr clicked in to gear (sorry!!) in the second period and looked very much like his old self.

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