Reading: Federici (8), Gunter (7), Pearce (7), Mariappa (7), Harte (5), Kebe (6), Leigertwood (5), Karacan (6), Guthrie (6), McAnuff (5), Pogrebnyak (7).
Reading were outplayed in every area off the park on New Years Day as Tottenham turned on the style, showing everyone the gulf in class between the Top 4 contenders and the relegation strugglers.
It’s a case of should have, could have, would have though, as things started of sweetly with Ian Harte’s incredible free kick bouncing off the crossbar and onto the ready and waiting Pavel Pogrebnyak to nod in his second goal in 2 games to make it seven goals for the season (in all competitions).
It wasn’t long until Spurs were level though, with a brilliant corner by Sigurdsson (which we all remember he does so well) headed home by captain Dawson in the 9th minute, five minutes after Pavel’s opener.
From that point on, Reading were on the back foot, with six to eight men defending the edge of the penalty box for the rest of the first half, closing down as soon as the ball was in our third.
The brightest spark for Tottenham was the lightning quick Aaron Lennon. Every time he got the ball it looked like something was going to happen with Ian Harte having a torrid time when one-on-one with the speedy England international.
It’s no surprise, then, that it was Lennon who provided the cross for Adebayor to head home in the 51st minute. Lennon was allowed time on the ball out on the right wing and lofted a high ball into the box that the Togo international rose high meet and get a goal. His performance other than the goal was lazy and one Tottenham fan yelled “he was only there by accident!” when he scored.
With 20 minutes still to play the Royals looked to bounce back, with three glorious opportunities to equalise. First, Pogrebnyak found space to take a shot and once Lloris had made the stop, the ball bounced up in the air of the big Russian to have another bite of the cherry – only for the striker to head the high and wide of the net. Should have scored.
Then Jimmy Kebe, who had a fairly quiet afternoon, was put through on goal only for Kyle Naughton to get back and make a superb sliding tackle to dispossess the Malian. Should have scored.
Finally, Alex Pearce won a header from a corner which looked for all the world to be heading to the back of the net only for Dawson to be in the right place at the right time. Should have scored.
Not long after these chances, Clint Dempsey scored the third for Tottenham with a shot which deflected off Leigertwood’s leg and looped up and over Federici into the net.
On reflection, Reading played alright but Tottenham had too much class all over the pitch and they could have won by more had Defoe put his shooting boots on. He had a number of shots from distance and one in the first half was millimetres wide from the goal.
One positive you can take from this match was that Reading defended resolutely and don’t look like they can be torn apart like they were so easily earlier in the season. Spurs were restricted to shots from distance and the occasional cross into the box, which by and large Federici and co dealt with reasonably comfortably.
There’s still some work to be done with this new formation and the transitions the team make to go from defence to attack. Opportunities to get forward but limited but too often it was broken down with a wrong decision, poor pass or the incredible Sandro doing what he does best and breaking up play.
I think the majority of fans would have thought of this type of game as a bonus point if we could get anything from it. Having left with nothing it’s not too disheartening and if McDermott can find the balance between all out attack and all out defence, we should pick up a fair few more points. Whether we’ll get enough points to survive is another question entirely.