A break in the run of 1-1 draws was a welcome relief and an away win all
the better, but Reading should have been put away much earlier than when
Spurs had to withstand a brief rally at the end to preserve their 1-0
win until the final whistle.
Without the injured Lennon and Berbatov, Huddlestone came into midfield,
with Darren Bent getting a rare start up front. This allowed Spurs
to play a more traditional front two, with Keane feeding off the more
obvious target man. Spurs had early defending to do as Reading
tried to grab the initiative and Radek Cerny was alert to Nicky Shorey's
cross and dived to take it. However, it was at the other end that
the first real effort on goal arrived, when Bent did well to get his
head to Steed Malbranque's cross, coming over the top of a defender, but
could only direct it wide of the goal.
Perhaps it might have suited Spurs more
to be awarded a free-kick just outside the Reading penalty area in the
seventh minute, although we rarely score from them. As it was
Howard Webb waved play on and Steed took possession and hit a curler
wide of the goal. It was a hint of what was to come. Bent
was always looking to make an angle for a pass and when he got on the
end of Malbranque's inside the full-back, he hit a low shot that
Hahnemann did well to stop with an outstretched leg.
It was all Tottenham at this stage, with
Reading players losing their positions and Spurs players finding room to
run to drag them even further out of shape. Bent was proving too
much of a handful for the home defence and his out-muscling of Hunt took
him clear and he fed Keane, who played it on to Huddlestone.
Tommy's pull back was intended for Steed Malbranque, but with his back
to goal, he tried a back-heel, but it was blocked.
With the clock approaching sixteen
minutes played, Jermaine Jenas, who was causing problems with his runs
on and off the ball, found Keane 20 yards outside the area. As
Robbie turned, he was fouled, but when the ball ran straight to Bent,
the ref waved play on and Keane had got up to take the ball back from
his fellow striker and he moved into the area. The skipper dropped
a shoulder as if to shoot and sent Shorey and Rosenior sliding the wrong
way, as he struck the ball past the keeper with the outside of his foot
and into the net to give Tottenham a 1-0 lead.
It was all Spurs deserved for their
enterprising start and there was more to come, as only a dodgy offside
decision denied Steed a second, when he lifted Keane's pass over
Hahnemann only to find the linesman had wrongly adjudged him to have
been half a yard in front of the last defender instead of half a yard
behind him. That came just after Keane had curled a free-kick
around the wall, but not the keeper, who pushed his shot aside.
Lita blazed wide when well placed on the
left of the Tottenham goal, with Reading's only real chance in the first
30 minutes, while Spurs were opening the Royals' defence up at every
occasion. Bent raced through with options to his left, but waited
too long to try and put Steed in, finding a defender in his path.
Hunt too a pot shot from a cleared ball,
but most of the pace was taken of fit by the turf, which he kicked the
ball into, while Cerny took a deflected cross ball from Shorey.
Tottenham's next attack saw Keane and Malbranque exchange passes twice
before Rosenior managed to get in front of Robbie to block as he
prepared to get his shot away, then Reading tried to get something
before half-time, but there was little opportunity other than Shorey's
cross which flew across goal, missing out all the hooped shirts on the
The half-time break brought worries of
our recent matches, when Tottenham have been unable to hang onto a lead.
Reading had been poor, but surely their second half performance must be
better than the first.
Two minutes in and it should have been
two, as the worries resurfaced and another chance was missed.
Hutton dinked a ball into space in front of Keane on the right of the
area and with the Reading defence all huddled together for safety in the
middle, he drilled a shot across the face of the six yard box, missing
out everyone in the centre of the penalty area, but Steed Malbranque
came in at the far post like he did last week. Unfortunately, on
this occasion, he could only slide a left foot out at the ball and hit
the side netting on the outside, rather than the inside and the chance
While Reading were fairly ineffectual in
attack, Dawson and Woodgate were immense in the middle of our back four
and dealt with everything that came their way. The midfield
enjoyed acres of space, while Hutton was employed mainly as an auxiliary
attacker. A flowing move involving Keane making a short pass to
Malbranque, who lifted the ball over four Reading players in front of
him to put Keane in, but he fell and knocked the ball to Jenas on the
right. It looked as though the players were trying to set up
Darren bent, as JJ tried to knock a square ball to him in front of goal,
but it was blocked, just as he was about to shoot.
O'Hara came on for Huddlestone and later
Boateng replaced Keane, as younger legs were given a chance to be
stretched. Reading gave a bit more in the second half and caused a
few problems, but none of great moment. Kitson failed to control
his shot that flew wide and Lita also hit one at goal and at least made
Cerny pat it down before taking it at the second attempt. Zokora
did well to get something on Bikey's shot from the D, after being set up
by Lita, then Matejovsky should have made Cerny work with a shot from 25
yards, but he put it wide of the mark.
From a cleared Reading attack, Cerny
threw out to O'Hara and he ran through the middle of the pitch to
release Bent on the left side of the area and as he headed for goal
unleashed a low shot that beat Hahnemann, but not the goalpost, which
took the ball across the face of the goal and out for a goal-kick.
That came with fifteen minutes left and while Ingimarsson struck a
fierce drive straight at Cerny, which again took two goes to claim and
then the home crowd roared for a penalty when the ball popped up against
O'Hara, but it struck his chest rather than his arm, so referee Webb
waved the appeals away.
It was with five minutes to go that
Reading had their best spell. Lita headed on to Kitson, who came
in at the left side of the area and from ten yards out drove a shot in
at the near post, but Cerny was there to beat it away and then a minute
later, the ball dropped nicely for Rosenior to dig out a shot that
looked like it might sneak inside the post halfway up, but Cerny used
his feet well to get across and throw a hand up to palm it around for a
corner. It was a very good save.
With time running out, the ball was being
kept in midfield by Spurs, when Harper lost all rational thought and
clattered through the back of Boateng, conceding a free-kick and also
gaining a yellow card. More than anything, it gave Spurs the
opportunity to kill some time and to move the ball down to the Reading
end. Twice Jenas broke through, still full of running, with one
ending in a shot that flew a couple of yards wide, with the other trying
to set up Bent again, but once more the ball did not reach it's intended
With the final whistle sounding, it
signalled an end to the league season at the Madjeski Stadium.
Might it have also signalled the end of Premiership football there ??