MATCH REPORT: 2006/2007 Season

Reading: -
Tottenham: Keane (41 mins, pen).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 36,067

Pos Team P Pts GD
7 Everton 30 46 +12
8 READING 31 44 +4
9 Portsmouth 31 43 +5
Reading: Hahnemann (Federici 46), Halford, Duberry, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Little (Oster 75), Harper, Sidwell, Hunt (Doyle 65), Lita, Kitson. Subs Not Used: Bikey, Gunnarsson.
Tottenham: Robinson, Chimbonda, Dawson, Rocha, Young-Pyo Lee, Lennon, Zokora, Jenas, Malbranque (Huddlestone 80), Berbatov, Keane (Defoe 75). Subs Not Used: Cerny, Stalteri, Taarabt.
Reading: -.
Tottenham: Rocha.
Ref: A Wiley (Staffordshire).
It took a very dubious penalty decision, five minutes before half time, to earn Spurs the full three points at Reading's expense. The scoreline and the single goal from the penalty spot hid the true story of a lively encounter with a string of good chances to both sides in front of goal. There was no doubt that Spurs has the better of the game and perhaps deserved the win but Reading were also extremely unlucky not to grab at least one goal but maybe more. With Murty returning injured from international duty, Greg Halford was handed his first big chance at right back and completed his first full ninety minutes for Reading. The four man defence, that also included Duberry alongside Ingimarsson, were to have a very busy afternoon.

We'd expected an entertaining game and that's what we got as the home side were the first to go close. Right from the start Spurs carved out two excellent chances within a couple of minutes. Hahnemann was quickly called into action but was equal to the job making two excellent saves - one from close range sticking out his leg at the vital moment. As Spurs continued to swarm forward Reading were saved by the post after Spurs broke clean through with just the keeper to beat. Halford was doing ok considering the pressure he was under and although we was beaten a couple of times he balanced it with a few decent tackles. I felt we missed Murty but Halford was certainly a reasonable replacement. His monster long throws didn't create much today but are certainly useful in getting the ball forward.

After Tottenham's impressive start Reading didn't take long to get into the game as the fixture developed into an end to end encounter between two good passing sides. Leroy Lita nearly put Reading ahead with a superb header, meeting a long cross ball from Glen Little on the right. Lita's contact was excellent as he dived to head the ball midway in the area - unfortunately the ball smacked against the post rather than finding the back of the net. As the ball came back out Sidwell was there and so nearly made contact with the rebound. Moments later Reading broke through again with Kitson sending in a powerful shot that was too close to the keeper - again the rebound could have gone anywhere with Reading pushing forward.

After both sides had survived the storm it was a shame that the only goal came from the penalty spot. Halford was very unlucky to been judged to have controlled the ball with his arm as it bounced across him in the Reading area. Perhaps technically it was a penalty but with the ball already with Halford and no immediate danger it seemed very wrong that this vague incident should cost Reading the game. Hahnemann's dive was the right direction but not far enough as Keane's penalty tucked inside the post to make it 0-1.

Hahnemann had had an excellent first half but was replaced by Federici at the break. It seemed obvious it was due to injury and at full time that was confirmed when Hahnemann came over the away fans as usual - but with a slight limp. Nothing too serious as he could still manage a slow jog. Federici continued the good work and kept Reading's hopes alive with a couple of excellent saves. The pick was a long range effort that looked to be flying into the back of the net until Federici sprung upwards and cleanly plucked the ball from the air - and kept hold of it. A top class save. Reading also had Spurs finishing to thank as they wasted a couple of chances by blasting the ball high and wide. When Spurs did find the net - twice - they did it from off-side positions as the score stayed at 0-1.

Spurs definitely had the better of the second half but Reading could have pulled level from the head of Lita - this time his header from a corner was just wide of the near post. As usual Reading didn't give up and there was slim hope until the end with Doyle, Kitson and Lita all up front. With the game in injury time Reading pushed forward with every player except Federici in the opposition half, but Spurs held firm to take the win.

A fair analysis I thought. The penalty was unlucky- the ball came up on to his hand and in his enthusiasm to show he was not handling it, he knocked it away. So unlucky but you can't say it was a mistake by the ref- just a harsh judgement. It was an entertaining game and clear why Reading have done well- good football and bold- getting lots of players forward. In particular, going for the equaliser by putting on more forwards was like a top four team reacting by going behind. Overall, Reading played without fear and that sets you apart from most teams in their first premiership season. Support was good too- we even get London clubs like Charlton and Fulham who don't manage to fill up that section.
Jimmy Pearce

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