BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 16th SEPTEMBER, 2012
READING 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (1)
Defoe, 18, 74
Referee:- Howard Webb
Assistants:- Mr. G. Beswick & Mr. P. Bankes
Fourth Official:- Mr. N. Swarbrick
Reading (4-5-1):- McCarthy; Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte; McCleary, Karacan (sub Le Fondre, 46), Guthrie (sub Robson-Kanu, 83), Leigertwood, McAnuff(Capt.); Pogrebnyak (sub Hunt, 83)
Subs not used:- Taylor; Shorey, Mariappa; Cummings
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Friedel; Walker, Gallas (Capt.), Vertonghen, Naughton; Sandro, Dembele; Lennon (sub Townsend, 87), Sigurdsson (sub Huddlestone, 72), Bale (sub Dempsey, 78); Defoe
Subs not used:- Lloris; Dawson, Caulker; Adebayor
Spurs win with patient, stylish football.
Whilst today's opposition was moderate, to say the least, the knives of the media hacks remain sheathed for the foreseeable future at least, after Andre Villas-Boas's Spurs got their first win of the season at The Madesjki Stadium.
Spurs might not have hogged the possession, but it was their play that was incisive when it counted. Had it been more cutting, then the scoreline might have been even more convincing. Reading carried little threat, and the Spurs defence felt confident to let the home side come on to them, repelling the attacks with relative ease, before either a swift counter-attack, or some patient, passing build-up play.
AVB's style is clear to see. He is determined to stick rigidly to his 4-2-3-1, and with recent signing Mousa Dembele on board, the Spurs midfield play seemed to have more strength and panache. There was no sign of Assou-Ekotto today, and Kyle Naughton stepped in more than adequately, despite his preference for playing on the right.
Gylfi Sigurdsson offered vision in the middle, exampled by his wonderful threaded pass inside veteran left back Ian Harte to feed the run of Aaron Lennon, who cut the ball back wonderfully for Jermain Defoe's first goal. Adebayor remained an observer from the bench today, whilst Jermain gleefully added two to his goal tally, and could have had one or two more.
Vertonghen and Gallas were comfortable at the back, and the full backs were restrained for the most part, although Kyle Walker played a major part in Gareth Bale's goal in the second half.
Gareth Bale still seems to be granted the luxury of turning it on at will, and when he desired, but he even got involved in some effective defence on occasions.
Spurs achievement today has to be tempered against the opposition, and QPR next week will offer a sterner test, I suspect.
Reading's ground is not one I enjoy visiting, due to its out of town location, a less than fully efficient Bus system, and very limited access points for away fans. As a result, I missed the first three minutes, but Spurs were on top, on the attack, and forcing McCarthy into a double save from Sigurdsson, and then from a shot by Vertonghen, after a Bale free kick from the right.
Bale was soon the recipient of a good ball over the top, but that came
to nought. It wasn't long before Spurs took an anticipated and
warranted lead, thanks to that well-worked move via Sigurdsson, and Lennon, who cut the ball back for Defoe, whose shot beat McCarthy to his right.
Sandro tried a decent shot from a good 25 yards, and McCarthy dived to his right to scramble the ball away.
Spurs were giving away a few too many free kicks for my liking, in dangerous positions, but Reading's efforts were either over-hit or just inadequate. After one such attack, came a lovely long ball to Defoe, who controlled with one clever touch, before firing wide.
Reading were prone to silly defensive errors, and after 31 minutes, Defoe stole the ball off the goalkeeper, taking the ball out to the right, before pulling back for Sigurdsson, whose shot looked as if it was cleared by a defender covering the keeper.
Reading skipper Jobi McAnuff did have a definite chance on goal, after William Gallas headed on a cross from the right. McAnuff tried a shot from the back of the area, but it was over the bar by a distance.
As half-time approached, Defoe was fouled in the middle, but referee Howard Webb allowed play-on, and Defoe carried the ball leading to a cross for Sigurdsson, who hit the shot just wide.
Sigurdsson had had a good first half, but as he tired a little in the second, he was rightfully replaced by Tom Huddlestone, doing his best Assou-Ekotto impression with that hair! Sigurdsson had begun to make one or two errors, but not in key areas.
Before that though, Brian McDermott replaced Karacan with Le Fondre, and switched the Reading emphasis more to attack. They had more pressure, and corners, but Spurs dealt with it all quite comfortable, until the late consolation goal.
Spurs were happy to be patient, but when they made a break, it was with gusto. Sigurdsson fed Lennon, whose first attempt to feed Defoe was intercepted, but Spurs kept up the pressure here, and won a corner.
Dembele won a ball well in the deep and carried it on a run, before firing wide. Defoe had another effort wide too. Sigurdsson fed Bale after another break, and Gareth tried a shot from 20 yards, which passed wide. Bale made a run down the left and crossed to the near post for Defoe, whose shot was block-tackled and went wide for a goal-kick.
At last, in the 71st minute, and a prolonged patient build-up, Kyle Walker got to the bye-line, chipped a cross to Bale, whose shot was not properly hit, but was good enough to hit the back of the net.
Spurs were not only in the lead, but had a two-goal lead for the first time this season. It got even better three minutes later, after a break, and a run by Bale that gave Defoe the chance to carry the ball towards the left of the box, before hitting a crashing left footer past the keeper.
Clint Dempsey replaced Bale, and played with plenty of vigour at both ends, making two vital defensive clearances, and playing a full part in the attack. Andros Townsend was a late replacement for Aaron Lennon and did well to carry the ball through strong challenges on the edge of the box, before getting down the right side and crossing for Defoe, who turned his first time shot over the bar.
Just when we thought it was all over, and that we would secure the first clean sheet of the season, Robson-Kanu hooked in a left foot shot at the back post after a cross from the right by Le Fondre. At least he few remaining Reading fans had something to cheer, but it looks like they are in for a tough season.
Spurs move up to the top half after four games, and will hope for that first home win next Sunday against QPR. First up though will be Lazio in Thursday's Europa League game. That could be a tough game, as the Italians have apparently had their best start for a number of years.
See you there!
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