SATURDAY 30TH JULY, 2005
READING 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (2)
Referee: - Mr. P. Armstrong
Attendance: - 18,281
Reading (4-4-2):- Hahnemann; Murty (Capt.), Sonko, Ingimarsson, Hunt (sub Osanu, 81); Little, Sidwell, Harper, Convey (sub Hayes, 83); Lita, Doyle
Subs not used: - Howell, Mullins, Castle, Cox, Boisfer, Hamer.
Spurs (4-4-2):- Cerny (sub Burch, 41); Kelly, King (Capt.), Gardner, Ziegler (sub Bunjevcevic, 80); Routledge, Tainio, Mendes, Reid (sub El Hamdaoui, 80)
Subs not used: - Marney, Jackson
Spurs ran out comfortable winners of this game with goals by both strikers again – Mido and Defoe, but the headline for Spurs fans was the presence of Edgar Davids in the Directors’ box. Davids was picked out from behind by a stadium camera, and the heavy away contingent was quick to spot the elegantly dressed Dutch man, with the trademark dreadlocks. They chanted his name, asked for a wave, and got what they wanted on two occasions! Whilst we are now obliged to wait till Monday for the official announcement (due to Stock Market rules, I assume), Davids’ presence, willingness to acknowledge the away support AND the fact he was pictured and fully featured in the programme was enough to convince us that it really is a done deal!
With another strong side to play at Aldershot tomorrow, today’s team had been pre-selected, but no doubt Mendes and Tainio, more than anyone on the field, wanted to make a big impression on the manager, as both are likely to have to make way once the season starts for what presumably will be a Carrick – Davids midfield pairing. Indeed, Reading manager Steve Coppell, when interviewed after the game on Talk Sport sounded quite in awe of the fact that Spurs have such depth of cover for some positions. Expect him to come round with his begging bowl, when Spurs are ready to offer one or two players on loan!
The “Royals” are missing a few players, including their loan keeper, Graham Stack, and striker Dave Kitson to name just two. They did field a side that gave a very good account of themselves though, and they hit the metal-work twice (it’s not wood these days folks!). Bobby Convey (once a Spurs target) fully tested Stephen Kelly on the wing, and tricked him in the first couple of minutes with a neat flick over Kelly’s head, and cross. I was also particularly impressed by centre-back Ibrahima Sonko, formerly of Brentford, who played in 42 games for Reading last season. Assisted by his colleagues, Sonko managed to keep Jermain Defoe at bay for a lot of the game, despite the goal that Defoe scored.
Reading midfielder Steve Sidwell has Arsenal antecedents, but he’s a favourite of the locals here, and often captured the eye, not least when hitting a post in the first half. After Convey’s piece of trickery, left back Stephen Hunt got the better of Wayne Routledge deep in the Spurs half, to feed Lita, whose shot was well above the target. Having soaked up that early bit of play from the hosts, Spurs not only broke back, but took a 4th minute lead. Defoe started the move from the left flank, passed across the line, and Routledge slipped a pass to Mido, who beat the keeper with a nonchalant left-footed prod. This was a real touch of class.
Five minutes later, Pedro Mendes hit a curling shot just over the bar from a corner, but there were few clear cut chances to come. It was mid-way through the half, when Ledley tried a headed clearance, that went as far as Doyle who fired over from the edge of the area. Cerny did well to cleanly hold Sidwell’s shot from the edge of that box, after a harshly awarded free kick on the right for an alleged offence by Ziegler, playing at left back, and competing well.
Routledge impressed once again. He has the pace to beat men, can carry the ball over distance and knows when to release, and when to take on his man. He started a move from the half-way line that then featured Mido and Defoe, before Mido’s shot was deflected for a corner. After 38 minutes, Mido (looking lean and mean) was helping to defend a corner at the other end. The ball beat his attempt to head clear, and Sidwell pounced at the back post, hitting the post with his effort, which rebounded clear. Cerny hit the post trying to make the save and I think he was replaced as a precaution more than anything, as Rob Burch made a welcome appearance before the break. It was a chipped pass from Reid that was half-cleared to Defoe whose shot was cruelly deflected past the wrong-footed Reading keeper for a 2-0 half-time lead.
Burch had to make a good save just after the break from Doyle’s header, but generally Reading were kept well away from dangerous areas. Mido headed a Reid corner just wide at the back post after 55 minutes, and then Reid found Routledge goal-side of the defence about 25 yards out. The trouble was Routledge had his back to goal, and Sonko made a good clearance. Reading did have the ball in the net after 65 minutes, but the offside flag was already up.
Defoe had a couple of chances after some lengthy possession by Spurs, and was then thwarted by the advancing keeper as Mendes had set him up. Convey hit the angle of the post and bar with a free kick taken on the right, seven minutes before the end. In injury time, Hahnemann made a good save with his left hand low down to stop Defoe from making it 3-0.
The attendance was quite good, but the Reading end of the stadium was two-thirds empty, whilst Spurs had sold out their section. Random Spurs fans had also infiltrated several home areas of the ground.
I hope to be at Aldershot for tomorrow’s game.
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