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Match Reports
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Reading v Spurs, 15.01.08


Keane, 15

Attendance: - 22,130

Referee; - Mike Riley

Reading (4-5-1):- Federici; De La Cruz, Ingimarsson (Capt.), Pearce (sub Cox, 46), Shorey (sub Hunt, 66); Rosenior, Cisse, Harper, Convey, Long; Lita

Subs not used: - Hahnemann; Henry; Doyle

Booked: - Lita, Long

Spurs (4-4-2):- Cerny; Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul (sub Stalteri, 82), Gunter; Boateng, Jenas, Tainio (sub O’Hara, 76), Malbranque; Keane (Capt.), Defoe (sub Lennon, 61)

Subs not used: - Forecast; Taarabt

Booked: - Lennon

What goes 99 bonk? – Spurs winning 1-0 at Reading!

Robbie Keane scored his 99th club goal to give Spurs a deserved 15th minute lead in the Madejski Stadium, and after a bright start they withdrew and successfully held onto their one goal lead in a game that faded and rarely excited. Spurs did go “bonk” when Steed Malbranque’s thunderbolt was tipped onto the bar in added time, but Reading substitute Steve Hunt had already hit Spurs woodwork in a late flourish.

Once again Steve Coppell fielded a weakened team, and with Duberry injured and Hunt left out, it was arguably weaker than the team he sent to White Hart Lane. Once again, Coppell’s strategy was unadventurous, with Lita the lone front runner supported by a 5-man midfield with Long and Rosenior on the flanks. Juande Ramos made a number of changes. Paul Robinson was on paternity leave, so Tommy Forecast got on the bench for the second time this season. Ledley King was rested, and Dimitar Berbatov was ill. That allowed a return for Younes Kaboul, who had to be replaced late in the game as he got a knock. Defoe made just his 7th start in all games this season. Chris Gunter made his Spurs debut at left back. Gunter is quite a tall individual, and broke forward on several occasions, having a reasonable game at the back, without doing anything sensational.

Ramos’s midfield was set up with caution in mind. It looked like a diamond formation, with Tainio at the back, and Jenas given more freedom at the front. There was no natural winger, and Boateng played right side of the midfield, with Malbranque on the left. That group gained a good deal of the first half possession, and Reading were staunched, giving Cerny little challenge in goal.

Jenas made a great run from half-way after 8 minutes, but declined the opportunity for glory himself, hitting a ball that Keane did not reach. The ball was neither shot or cross, and the attack deserved more. Two minutes later, Gunter won a corner, taken by Jenas. There was indecision in the Reading defence, and Kaboul headed forward for Defoe to head onto the top of the net. Cerny then had to make a save from Lita, before Spurs took the lead from another corner. Jenas’s kick was met with a powerful header by Kaboul, tipped onto the crossbar by Federici, but then prodded home by Robbie Keane for that 99th club goal.

To be honest, thereafter for a lot of the time, it was like watching an early incarnation of a Jol side, taking the lead and holding out. It was Spurs first win of the year, and their first clean sheet since their last cup success at The City of Manchester Stadium. In fact, Spurs have managed just 8 clean sheets in 34 games so far, with 5 of them being in Cup games.

Federici suffered a Robinson-like incident when he held Chimbonda’s cross and might have carried behind the line, as had Robbo in the first leg of this tie. Boateng had been involved in this move, and hit a dangerous cross five minutes before the break, which Defoe met with a rasping drive, saved by Federici. That was it for the first half, and without feeling excited, Reading had hardly threatened in their own stadium, and it looked like Spurs would hold out.

Ten minutes after the break, Rosenior’s cross was headed back by Lita and left back Shorey (playing in front of Fabio Capello) hit a shot just wide. Defoe was replaced by Lennon, who took up a role beside skipper Keane. Sadly, Spurs failed to service their strike force, and whilst they were defending strongly, it was more a case of hit it anywhere than considered play. Tainio (who I felt had a competent game at the back of midfield) was replaced by the more creative O’Hara with fifteen minutes left. O’Hara was involved in a move after a Reading attack, at the end of which Boateng hit a low shot three yards wide of Federici’s right hand post.

In the closing stages, Kaboul took a knock and had to be replaced by Paul Stalteri. Stalteri took over at right back, and Chimbonda moved inside. Hunt had that shot that rattled the bar, following a Reading throw on the right. Cerny then made a good save from Cox, before Dawson defended well against Lita, running him across the edge of the Spurs area. Lita did have a shot blocked with Cox’s follow-up also saved, before Spurs also hit the woodwork in added time. O’Hara had sent a long ball to the left side of the area, where Keane retrieved and passed back to Steed, whose shot was tipped up by Federici to prevent a two-goal win.

Thus Spurs earnt themselves a trip to Old Trafford, to be viewed by the BBC on Sunday 27th January. We will take plenty of fans up there, and we will be allowed to play our football, but of course it is a big task for Spurs, whose last win up there was in 1989.

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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