MATCH REPORT: 2007/2008 Season

Reading: -
Tottenham: Keane (15 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 22,130

Pos Team P Pts GD
12 Tottenham 22 24 +2
13 READING 22 22 -17
14 Middlesbro 22 21 -17
Reading: Federici, De la Cruz, Ingimarsson, Pearce (Cox 46), Shorey (Hunt 66), Rosenior, Cisse, Harper, Convey, Lita, Long. Subs Not Used: Hahnemann, Doyle, Henry.
Tottenham: Cerny, Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul (Stalteri 82), Gunter, Tainio (O'Hara 76), Jenas, Boateng, Malbranque, Defoe (Lennon 61), Keane. Subs Not Used: Forecast, Taarabt.
Reading: Lita, Long.
Tottenham: Lennon.
Ref: Mike Riley (Yorkshire).
Reading were spared the trauma of visiting Old Trafford with a weakened team in the next round of the F A Cup by narrowly losing to virtually full strength Spurs team. The absence of Kitson and Berbatov significantly reduced the cutting edge of both teams following two recent games which produced a total of fourteen goals. Steve Coppell decided to play a defensive 4 - 5 - 1 formation which basically was a shambles from the start. Lita was isolated and Reading struggled to maintain any kind of defensive shape. Spurs ran the home side ragged in the opening fifteen minutes with direct passing and a midfield prepared to take players on. Long looked uncomfortable tracking back wide on the right and defenders were being dragged all over the place by the movement of the their opponents.

The deciding goal came from a corner and it was poor defending which allowed Kaboul to head against the bar and Keane reacted first to put away the rebound. Moments before Lita had a half chance to give Reading the lead. With the defence frozen expecting an offside decision Cerny flew out preventing Lita from lifting the ball over him. To make matters worse he went down to gain a penalty and was promptly booked by Mike Riley. Although Reading enjoyed a brief spell of good play just before half time their passing was generally not sharp enough and Spurs retained possession with relative ease. Only a superb save from Federica from a sweetly struck Defoe volley kept Reading in the game by half time.

The second half was far better from Reading's point of view and they should have forced extra time in the closing stages when Hunt hit the bar from the edge of the box and then seconds later Cox could not quite find the power to head past Cerny from close range. There was still time fro Federici to pull off another outstanding save from a scorching volley from Malbranque. The tactical changes at half time once again provided evidence that 4 -4- 2 works better for Reading whatever the personnel available. It is rare to see such a massive re-shuffle at half time but it worked. Shorey had brief burst in midfield when Peace was replaced by Cox and Cisse dropped to centre back, De La Cruz switched to left back and Long was pushed forward closer to Lita. It was a pity Shorey was not given the chance to play on the left side of midfield, and earlier in the game. He looked a bit lost in the centre. Cox showed some clever tricks to get behind the Spurs defence and Rosen had what I consider to be his best game in Reading shirt at right back, Convey was completely anonymous and needs to start making more of an impact or he will find himself back on the bench.

Once again a spirited performance in the second half but the quality of passing, movement and finishing was not sufficient to really trouble Spurs. The game deteriorated in the second half as both sides often content to hoof it forward hopefully and in spite of views expressed to the media to the contrary , I'm not convinced Reading are really that bothered by the defeat. It was a chance to experiment and it gave some squad members the chance of a decent run out. I was particularly impressed with Cisse who looked very assured in a team which generally lacked presence and leadership. The next match that really matters is Bolton at home. I'm sure Man Utd and Chelsea will be confident of beating the Royals but will not be taking anything for granted.

Bearing in mind it would appear most of the personnel at the club don't give two monkeys about the glorious FA Cup, this was probably the best result, a fighting one nil defeat and no trip for our second string to Old Trafford for what probably been a right tonking. God knows what was going on in the first half last night in defence, DLC was man marking Keene and it appeared nobody had a clue what was going on defensively, a complete shambles, as it had been in recent weeks. Wally Downs may be a top bloke but it would appear his position of Defensive Coach is under severe pressure based on our appalling recent performances.
As for last night, I thought the second half was a lot better than the first and Cox looked very sharp when he came on, the lad has developed well and should now be given a chance, can anybody tell me how he can't be better than Convey who continues to be a complete utter waste of space. Rosenior did well at right back and must be sadly now first choice over Murty and Cisse did well at centre back, finally Federici did great in goal with two wonder saves and again IMHO is better that USA. Long looked like he wasn't that bothered, though it didn't help being dragged back to full back half the game because of our tactics and Lita, though he battled was very selfish on a couple of occasions and should have set up Cox for a great chance.
First rule in football, don't let in goals, everybody knows our defence is becoming a laughing stock, there are two weeks left in the transfer window to do something about, something with the thirty odd million we'll get this year, time to do something or get dragged down into the depths of the relegation zone and we all know the nightmare scenario that comes with that. Still time to do something, please!
Nick Newbury

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Tottenham made it through to the FA Cup fourth round with a greater degree of comfort than the scoreline suggested... From the start, Tottenham were more confident in possession and more threatening with it, particularly from the unlikely source of Kaboul, who caused Reading problems in the air from set-plays. It was his headed flick-on that gave Defoe a chance to open the scoring but the striker could only nod over the bar. But when Kaboul again rose above the Reading defence from Jermaine Jenas' corner, it proved decisive as the ball was pushed against the bar by Federici only for Keane to smash in the rebound. Apart from the pace offered by Leroy Lita, Reading appeared unable to make any impact on the Spurs defence. And in midfield, too, they were second-best as Jenas dictated the pattern of the match.
BBC Sport

Tottenham Hotspur have always enjoyed their reputation as a “cup side” ... They progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup with victory over Reading in their third-round replay at the Madejski Stadium last night. It was, though, a limp performance and that they had to hang on near the end — a frenzied period during which Stephen Hunt, the Reading winger, struck the crossbar — does not augur well for their next tie, against Manchester United... Although Tottenham struggled to dispatch a patchwork Reading side, Ramos’s line-up was a touch threadbare, too... The match rarely threatened to explode into the goal extravaganza that took place at White Hart Lane last month, when Reading lost 6-4 in the league, but it was Tottenham who again had most of the play. Defoe produced a stinging volley but Federici made a spectacular save. From then on, Ramos opted for security. Reading upped the ante, with Hunt almost snatching a late equaliser...
Russell Kempson, The Times