Reading FC Match Report: 2012/2013 Season - Premier League
READING 1 TOTTENHAM 3
Reading: Robson-Kanu (90)
Tottenham: Defoe (18, 74), Bale (71)
After the first five minutes of the game I was left wondering if the Royals would ever get out of their own half as Spurs stroked the ball around denying Reading possession with their movement, excellent touch, and accurate passing. Reading seemed understandably over-awed by their opponents and lacked the confidence to attack with any purpose in the opening phase of the game. McCarthy had to parry a fierce drive and a Sigurdsson header in the fifth minute as Reading worked hard to keep Spurs at bay. Strong appeals for a Reading penalty were denied by Howard Webb after ten minutes as Pearce challenged for a cross at the far post and a Spurs hand was raised and made contact with the ball. Webb blew for a push by Pearce. The inevitable goal came when Sigurdsson (who had received a warm welcome from the Reading fans) slid the ball inside Harte for Lennon to race onto and cut back for Defoe inside the box. The quality of the move was matched by the quality of the finish.
To their credit Reading kept their heads, apart from a couple of horrendous misunderstandings between Mc Carthy, Gorkss and Pearce which on another day would have been severely punished, and the Spurs lead was restricted to one goal in the first half. McCleary offered a glimmer of hope as he turned Spurs defenders inside out and had to be halted with clumsy challenges. The resulting free kicks, which presented Reading with their best opportunities to get back on level terms, were wasted with poor quality delivery in to the danger area. Reading hung on and were still in the game at half time.
As always, Brian McDermott was proactive, switching to a more attacking 4 4 2 formation replacing Karacan with Le Fondre to play alongside the lonely Pogrebnyak up front. The second half was more encouraging for Royals fans who were behind their team throughout. No longer suffering from the inferiority complex which had inhibited their play in the first period Reading began to cause some anxious moments for the Spurs defence. As they pushed on however they looked vulnerable on the counter attack from a very pacy and skilful Spurs team. The next goal was crucial and it came from strange looking strike from Bale which looped into the net from a ball cut back from the right. That would probably have been enough to secure the points but for good measure Defoe turned past Gorkss on the half way line and outpaced the rest of the Reading defence to fire a superb shot inside the far post. The hat trick almost came when the England striker spun and volleyed over from ten yards. Reading completed the scoring with a very good goal when Robson-Kanu tucked away a delightful ball to the far post by Le Fondre.
Spurs are one of a half dozen clubs Reading will be unlikely to take points from this season, but there is enough in their performances so far to indicate they are capable of picking up enough points elsewhere to avoid the drop. It was good team effort today although I would like to see a bit more from McAnuff. When a team is behind they look to their captain for leadership. Not much evidence of that today.
Reading were given a demonstration in Premier League football this afternoon at the Madejski Stadium - going down 1-3 to Spurs. If anything the scoreline flattered the Royals who were 0-3 down until the last minute when Robson-Kanu grabbed a consolation. After being genuine contenders against Chelsea in our last league showing - 25 days ago - it was back to reality today as the Royals struggled to compete. The visitors were superior in every department, created a whole load of chances and looked comfortable throughout. Robson-Kanu's late goal was followed with a strong penalty appeal for the Royals with the last action of the game. It might have ended 2-3 but most of the home fans had already left at that point with the only possible outcome being defeat.
Federici's mystery injury was back giving McDermott the chance to try McCarthy in goal. McCarthy was immediately called into action as Spurs began their first half domination. An impressive double save kept the scores at 0-0 but it was only a matter of time before Spurs took the lead by making the most of their superior pace against Harte. The cross from the right was stuck home by the dangerous Defoe. Defoe could quickly have doubled the score with a superb touch that beat two Reading defenders to set himself up nicely - only to put his shot wide. McCarthy seemed to have been taking training tips from Federici and a careless half-kick set Spurs up another chance which they failed to take. Then there was a clearance off the line from Pearce as the traffic was only one way.
Reading's tactics of packing the midfield and leaving just Pogrebnyak up front had been spectacularly unsuccessful. Spurs dominated possession and long kicks up field continually failed to find targets - Gorkss only ever found a Spurs player. It was obvious to all and no surprise to see McDermott change things around at half time, bringing on Le Fondre to play with the Pog. For five minutes Reading were on top with Le Fondre looking lively. We won a few corners and looked like we might get back into the game. But it was short lived and Spurs soon took control, calmly passing it around leaving Reading short of ideas.
The second on 71 minutes was again from the right - Bale on the scoresheet from the resulting cross. And the third followed shortly afterwards as a long run from Defoe saw him secure a deserved second goal. Spurs were happy to then run down the clock and barely let Reading get a touch until a nice move secured the consolation. At least we pushed forward into injury time but it was little more than a token gesture.
This Premier League game took place 2529 days ago in the 2012/2013 season.