MATCH REPORT: 2006/2007 Season

12 November 2006: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Shorey 38, Sidwell 45, Doyle 79.
Tottenham: Keane 24 pen.
Half Time: 2-1
Attendance: 24,110

Pos Team P Pts GD
10 Fulham 12 17 -3
11 READING 12 16 -5
12 Tottenham 12 15 -5
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Little (Gunnarsson 85), Sidwell, Harper, Hunt (Oster 80), Doyle, Ki-Hyeon (Lita 75). Subs Not Used: Federici, Bikey.
Tottenham: Robinson, Young-Pyo Lee (Defoe 68), King, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Zokora (Huddlestone 68), Jenas, Ghaly, Keane, Berbatov. Subs Not Used: Cerny, Murphy, Ziegler.
Reading: Ki-Hyeon.
Tottenham: Jenas.
Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).

Reading came from behind to record a thoroughly deserved fifth Premiership victory against Tottenham - in front of another full house and a record attendance. After having lost four league games on the trot it was vital to take something from this game, but we feared the worst after going a goal behind mid-way through the first half. The Royals showed typical Reading-under-Coppell courage and determination to fight back and go ahead before the break, before adding another to notch up our first top tier victory by more than just the single goal margin. This was an impressive Reading performance all round as we showed a return to form after some disappointingly straight forward recent defeats. It was clearer than even that we'd missed Murty after he made his return from injury at full back and put in a superb performance. It was back to performances from last season with Glen Little fully back to his old self, tormenting the defence and swinging in some great crosses. In midfield, Sidwell played like a man possessed running around all over the place chasing the ball - clearly trying to put in the kind of performances that will tie up a new contract with the club. Those three players stood out but there were excellent showings across the whole side.

Reading had got off to a good start and were building on a controlled performance when Spurs took the lead, if anything against the run of play. The visitors took full advantage of a Sonko leg stretched out in the area, falling over it to win the penalty. Hahnemann went the wrong way and the ball was played into the bottom corner of the net to make it 0-1. For a few moments it looked like Spurs might build on that and increase their lead. However, Reading stuck to the job, giving no space for Tottenham to play it around. Murty and Shorey both weren't letting a thing past with some perfectly timed tackles. Sonko again was a bit off form with a couple of indecisive clearances that gifted possession back, but as a unit the Reading defence was looking very good and Hahnemann had very few saves to make for the rest of the half. Whenever the ball was loose or even hinted at being loose in midfield, Sidwell was there to collect and allow Reading to build going forward. Reading started to enjoy plenty of possession themselves but found themselves heavily outnumbered up front with Doyle being the sole front-man.

Things didn't look like they were going our way when the referee ignored a clear Tottenham hand ball in the area. He followed that up by awarding a foul against Little when the Spurs full-back flung himself to the floor in comical fashion. Moments later Hunt was pushed off the pitch and bizarrely the referee gave the free-kick the other way for a reason only known to himself. Spurs used their arms to control the ball a couple more times with nothing given against them and Reading kept running into heavy Spurs numbers in the area and couldn't find a way of getting a shot in. It looked like it might all get frustrating until the equaliser came from an unlikely source. Reading's determination paid off seven minutes before half time when the ball came loose to Shorey on the edge of the box on the left and he drove in a beautiful shot that swerved away from the keeper and into the far corner. 1-1.

The game had swung around suddenly back in Reading's favour. Just before the break the real breakthrough came. Reading won another corner on the left. Doyle marched in the middle and stood there unmarked for ages and kept pointing to his head. Eventually the corner came from the boot of Little, and it looked to be exactly what he'd asked for. Although Doyle couldn't quite reach it, the ball dropped for Sidwell to guide it home with the away defence static - as if they were waiting for the referee's whistle. Perfect timing for the goal as Reading went in ahead at the break.

The second half continued in the same vein with Reading preventing Spurs from playing, and eventually they started hitting long shots that were nowhere near the target in an attempt to get back into the game. Harper and Sidwell were controlling the midfield and Reading looked confident - playing the ball around nicely as well as showing no fear to make tackles. Spurs switched it around, taking off a defender and bringing on a striker and there was always a danger Spurs might pull level. They probably should have done with just over ten minutes left to play when substitute Defoe broke free in the area and fired into the side netting as Hahnemann did well to narrow the angle. It could have been 2-2, but instead Reading immediately made it 3-1, and sealed the win, as Hahnemann pumped the ball up-field from the goal kick. Doyle collected the ball and ran on goal before firing across the keeper into the far corner to wrap up the points for Reading. There was still time for more entertainment as both sides hit the post. Leroy Lita enjoyed his return to the side with a decent fifteen minutes on the pitch and could have scored the fourth after meeting the ball with a great run only to be beaten by the woodwork.

Following report by John Wells:
It was heart-warming sight to see all those England internationals wandering around with their heads on their chests as Reading stroked the ball around in stoppage time at the end of a match which Reading won with a thoroughly convincing performance. Few people would have predicted this result with Spurs on a ten match unbeaten run and Reading losing their last five games. Much of the credit for this result must go to Steve Coppell for the tactics and positive manner in which his team set about their task today. Three goals, three points, and a fine performance was more that most Royals fans would have expected and will have eased some of the anxiety about relegation after the recent defeats.

Reading started confidently and had a fair share of the play in the opening exchanges. Spurs looked dangerous with Keane orchestrating most of the good play from the visitors. Several times they looked likely to beat Reading's offside trap with slick passing and well-timed runs from midfield. Eventually it was rash challenge from Sonko on Ghaly as he burst through that provided the opening goal from the penalty spot. Keane converted calmly. Reading might have folded at that point but that thought had clearly not entered their heads. The Royals pressed forward and the crowd found its voice. Seven minutes before half time, Shorey demanded the ball in space on the left just inside the Spurs half. As he made ground he was encouraged by the absence of a serious challenge to have shot. From at least twenty-five yards his left foot strike flew under Robinson's dive to level the score. It was the kind of goal he had been threatening to score for a couple of seasons. On the stroke of half time Sidwell dealt Spurs a savage blow when he was allowed to apply the finishing touch to a corner. Even he must have been surprised to be given so much freedom in the six yard box.

A goal down Spurs were showing a little more urgency in their play after half time but Reading were content to absorb their attacks and break out when the opportunity arose. With greater ambition and more care with their passing Reading might have sealed the victory long before Kevin Doyle ran onto Lita's flick to stroke the ball inside Robinson's far post. It was thoroughly deserved after spending an afternoon battling against two very good central defenders in Dawson and King.

In the closing stages Oster presented Defoe with a chance with some crazy play down by the corner flag. Fortunately the Spurs striker lashed his shot against the inside of the post and Berbatov followed up by hoofing over from close range. At the other end Lita's fine header crashed against the upright with Robinson well beaten. In the end Reading thoroughly deserved their win.

Reading's line-up suggested Seol was playing up front with Doyle but in fact Seol and Hunt roamed freely and made Reading's play far less predictable. Little put in some telling crosses from the right and although Hunt's passing was awful in the first half he made a significant defensive contribution in the second half. Sidwell was a real presence in midfield and frequently won the ball with well timed challenges. He deserved his goal. Murty was full of energy and made some good forward runs and excellent tackles at crucial times. Shorey was clearly Premiership class. His goal capped a great performance in which he was a major influence in attacking play down the left, and defensively kept Aaron Lennon quiet, which is no mean feat. For all the good individual performances, it was, as usual, the way Reading functioned as a unit which produced the result.


Brilliant match and Brilliant performance. Fantastic to see Little back to his old self... repeating the type of performance that gave us the unbelivable outcome from last season. Murty was outstanding. Sidwell a giant. Fully deserved the result. We made Spurs look very ordinary. Here's a quote from the BBC report: "Despite having lost their previous four Premiership games, Reading showed wonderful character to beat a side that for the opening 38 minutes of this match had completely outplayed them". Correct about the character - being completely outplayed?? - must have been watching a different game.
Crowthorne Seb

How fitting that a record attendance at the Madejski saw another tremendous performance as the mighty Royals picked up their fifth win in the premiership by coming from behind and beating a very poor Spurs side. Spurs fans are similar to the Reading fans in their long term suffering, but we happening to be witnessing the birth of a new generation of Reading Football Club and now many of us will now start believing we're here to stay in the promised land. After a run of almost impossible fixtures we've emerged the other side with points and a wonderful mid table position with nearly a third of the season gone. A great trademark team performance yesterday from all but Murty and Little shone out like beacons. Murty had a storming game and leads by example and linking up with Glenda in front of him we saw the combination that terrorised championship teams last season, let's just hope they both remain injury free. Sidwell and Harper worked their socks off and again we start to imagine life without Sidwell, surely he can see he's got the chance to establish himself as a top premiership player by playing every game for us rather than languishing on some galactic johnny foreigner bench as a substitute. Sign Sidders and become a legend mate. Doyle had a great game as did Shorey capped by a wonderful goal. Hunt looked way out of depth and the fragility of the squad was clear for all to see but we came through with flying colours and pride. Spurs defending was a joke and with their superstars swaggering about thinking all they had to do was turn up, they soon came down to earth with a bump! Great day great result, now the real test starts with our games before Christmas, seven games, four at home, who could ask for any better xmas present than nine or more points. We're doing very very well so far, the foundation has been laid, let's hope we can build on it. ...... URZ !!!
Nick Newbury

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