FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 12TH NOVEMBER, 2006
READING 3 (2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1)
Keane (pen), 24
Attendance: - 24,110
Referee: - Rob Styles
Reading (4-4-2):- Hahnemann; Murty (Capt.), Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey; Little (sub Gunnarsson, 85), Sidwell, Harper, Hunt (sub Oster, 80); Doyle, Seol (sub Lita, 75)
Subs not used: - Federici; Bikey
Booked: - Seol (foul on Lennon)
Spurs (4-5-1):- Robinson; Lee (sub Defoe, 68), Dawson, King (Capt.), Ekotto; Lennon, Jenas, Zokora (sub Huddlestone, 68), Ghaly, Keane; Berbatov
Subs not used: - Cerny; Ziegler; Murphy
Booked: - Jenas
It was just another of those “If Only” days for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
If only Spurs had won, they would have been 7th in the Premiership, and not the mediocre 12th that reminds us of the development still needed in this side.
If only the whole team had not expected victory, instead of realising they would need to work for it. This really was a case of “after the Lord Mayor’s show”, and maybe Spurs thought that having beaten Chelsea a week ago, a win would fall into their laps. It had been such a good week for Spurs, with progress to the League Cup quarter-finals after the Chelsea win and a bonus draw to boot.
If only Martin Jol had not set the side up in a defensive frame of mind, with Robbie Keane falling back to the midfield, leaving Berbatov stranded up front for too much of the game. That might work in Europe, but it failed dismally here against a well-organised, determined and hard working Reading side, who chased Spurs down whenever they had the ball.
If only Spurs could score a goal for themselves in open play away from home. Robbie Keane’s 24th minute penalty followed a foul upon Ghaly as he raced into the box, and was the only goal we have scored for ourselves in the Premiership this season on away turf. We have still only scored 9 goals in 12 games.
If only Spurs had been able to defend effectively. Shorey’s 38th minute equaliser followed a throw taken on the right, where most of the Spurs team got sucked to the play on that side. The ball came for Shorey in acres of space, and he scored a low shot past Dawson and beyond Robinson’s left hand. More excruciating for the usual excellent Spurs following was the goal on the stroke of half time from a corner, where Spurs were slow to mark up, and Sidwell got a touch to prod the ball past Robbo. Reading’s third goal came in the 79th minute, when Doyle got the better of Ledley King with an angled shot from the left side that went behind King and beyond the despairing Robinson, who will not arrive in the England camp in the best frame of mind. Come to think of it, neither will Dawson or King.
If only Spurs would not so loyally adopt the “away team psychology”. The best teams do not change their tactics so radically whether they are at home or away, and only when Jermain Defoe replaced Young-Pyo Lee did Spurs start to look as if they wanted to score. Defoe had two significant chances. One was before we fell 3-1 behind. The other was too late to make a difference. The first went into the side netting, and the second did hit the post. But then so did substitute Leroy Lita
If only we had seen our full backs on the attack. If only Didier Zokora had one or two of his typical runs through the middle. Even he was lack-lustre today, and was replaced by Huddlestone.
Perhaps most significantly, if only Pascal Chimbonda was fit to play. Is he perhaps the most significant cog in the recently so effective Spurs defence? No doubt he would have added grit to the marking at corners, and won a few more headers in the box. We must hope he is fit for the next match at Ewood Park next week
If only I could remember anything more of significance from this game. Perhaps if I had not had such a good time pre-match in the Three Guineas, I could remember more!
If only I had been entertained a fraction as much as I was by the legendary Brian Wilson and his band last night at The Adelphi Theatre in The Strand.
I am proud to be a Spur and I want to be proud of my team, but yesterday they failed us drastically. The proudest moment for me yesterday was when we fell silent in the pub at the stroke of eleven to remember the fallen. It was a moment that would have humbled those who castigate football fans.
If only I could feel confident about next week’s game at Blackburn.
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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