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FA Cup Third Round

Saturday 5th January 2008

Having just been involved in a goal fest with Reading over Christmas and now being thrown in to face them in the FA Cup, it is highly unlikely that there will be a repeat performance.

Not because the teams will know each other well, but because there are unlikely to be the two same teams put out.  Spurs will have half an eye on the forthcoming London derbies against Chelsea in the league and Arsenal in the League Cup.  Reading will be missing two players following their sendings off and some others will be rested to help them be ready for the league games that they face.  As a result, it could be quite a disjointed game.

I don't foresee there being a lot of goals, as Reading will be looking to tighten up and hopefully, Spurs have been working on defending set-pieces in training.

While there are unlikely to be a share of ten goals up for grabs, I think it will be an absorbing game and with both teams committed to attack, it might produce quite a bit of goalmouth action.

Spurs' defeat at Villa leaves them in no-man's land in the league, so the cups might be the best way to produce a European place for next season and the third cup competition might just spark them to show how solid they can be and nick a narrow victory.

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  1    Reading  0

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Anthony Gardner (ankle); Gareth Bale (foot); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Darren Bent (thigh);  - (-); 

READING : - Glen Little (heel); Brynjar Gunnarsson (suspended); John Oster (ankle); Marcus Hahnemann (rested); Ibrihim Sonko (suspended); - (-); 


Sky Sports 1 -  Football First  -  Saturday 20.25
Match of the Day  (BBC 1) - Saturday 22.30 - 23.50 (highlights)
Goals on Sunday (Sky Sports 1) - Sunday 11.00
Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - Sunday 22.35 - 23.35 (highlights)
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152
 (live coverage)
BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney)  Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
Singapore Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
South Africa  SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean)  Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London -
click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




Tottenham Hotspur   2    Reading   2      (Half-time score : 1-1)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 5th January 2008
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,243
Referee :  Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Chilly, dry, but moisture in the air
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1 Robinson

  2 Chimbonda
26 King (c)
20 Dawson
  3 Lee

25 Lennon
  4 Zokora     
  8 Jenas     
15 Malbranque (Huddlestone 79     )

10 Keane (19 Taarabt 63)
  9 Berbatov

Unused subs: 
12 Cerny
18 Defoe
44 Gunter

Reading :

32 Federici

19 Rosenior
22 Bikey
23 De la Cruz
29 Duberry       (35 Pearce 90)

10 Hunt 
  4 Cisse
20 Fae
17 Convey     

24 Long
  8 Lita

Unused subs: 
  1 H
15 Harper
31 Cox
37 Robson-Kanu

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Berbatov 28
Berbatov (p) 50


Hunt 25
Hunt 78

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Jenas (foul) 90
Zokora (not retreating 10 yards from a corner)  90

Huddlestone (head-butt) 83


Duberry (persistent fouling) 47
Convey (unsporting conduct) 82


Match Report : -  
Nobody expected a repeat of last week's score-line, but had Tottenham taken all their chances, they could have almost doubled their tally, but they didn't and that left Reading's second string to cash in on an FA Cup Third Round replay, no doubt hoping it is their last involvement in the competition.

The fans did not seem to share their unenthusiastic approach to the famous old competition, as they greeted the draw with cheers which might have indicated that they had just won the trophy outright.  With their players almost doing a lap of honour, you wondered what Reading are all about.

Obviously, the players selected for the tie wanted to show that they are perhaps worth more than a supporting role and some of the early physical challenges indicated that they were there to rough Spurs up a bit.  Duberry especially took getting the ball by going through Berbatov to new levels and referee Clattenberk let him have three goes, before finally putting him in the book. 

It should really have been all over by then.  Although Lita looked lively early on, Ledley King soon showed that the presence he brings to the defence makes a difference and he kept the striker pretty quiet.  It was Jermaine Jenas though who tracked back to block Lita when he cut in from the left to hit a shot and from that Spurs released Aaron Lennon down the right, but his cross was too far ahead of Keane and Berbatov.  Tottenham were buzzing, with a good high tempo early on, hassling Reading into mistakes and one lead to the ball being fed to Steed Malbranque, who played a one-two with Dimitar, but the Bulgarian hit his shot horribly wide.

Five minutes into the game, Tottenham should really have been 1-0 ahead.  Steed put Berba away on the right and his low cross into the box found Robbie Keane coming in at the far post and from the edge of the six yard box he lazily put his left foot shot wide of the unkept goal.  It was a horrendous miss and one which I am sure would have seen Spurs go on to win comfortably.  However, with a hatful of chances in the half, it was slack finishing that was to cost us our progress from this match.

Jenas hit a weak free-kick that Federici caught on the first bounce as it pitched in front of him, then Lennon hit a weak shot from the edge of the area and while the game lost it's way a bit, Reading surprisingly took the lead on 25 minutes.  With a free-kick given away for a soft foul by Lee about 35 yards out, Hunt stepped up to take it and rather than clinging it into the middle of the area to exploit Tottenham's uncertainty in the air, he hit it towards the top corner, with Robinson badly positioned on the edge of the penalty area.  Robbo ran back to try and take it, but the pace on it meant he could not push it over and he was running backwards as he tried to catch it.  Suddenly, he was in the back of the net and the linesman was waving his flag for a goal.  It wasn't possible to see from my position in the ground where the ball was in relation to the line, but Robinson did not think it was a goal.

Not that the Reading lead lasted long, as it became a little reminiscent of last week's "you score, we score" game.  Aaron Lennon took the ball along the edge of the penalty box from right to left, before flicking it through to Berbatov on the right side of the area and from 12 yards out lashed the shot past Federici and made it 1-1 just two minutes after the ball was adjudged to have crossed the Spurs line.

Spurs looked rampant at this stage of the match and should have secured their passage to Round Four by taking a handful of the chances they created.  Berbatov turned to hit an acrobatic volley wide of the net, then Keane's back-heel past a square defence opened up an opportunity for Jenas, but his shot hit the advancing Federici.  Then Malbranque got too excited when he was set up by Berbatov and struck his shot way over the bar and then could not get sufficient strength in his shot when played in by Keane.  Into injury time of the first half, which passed very quickly, Lennon put Jenas through on the goalie and again, the Spurs midfielder's shot was along the ground, when a little elevation might have beaten him.  However, the bounce dropped for Keane and he tried an airborne scissors kick, but it went wide of the far post.

So, the teams swapped ends with the score at 1-1, just like last week and Tottenham were attacking the Paxton Road end, just like last week.  But that was about where the similarity ended.

Spurs did get a second half penalty, when Keane was once more upended as he was about to shoot from the left hand side of the box, following a well weighted ball from Michael Dawson.  Rosenior was the culprit and while there was another defender alongside him, there was no card for the foul.  Having missed a couple. Keane left it for Dimitar to take and although the keeper guessed right, the shot had too much pace on it for him to keep it out and Tottenham were ahead.

This obviously annoyed the annoying Hunt, who decided to rough up Chimbonda off the pitch and surprisingly only got a yellow card for it ... more of which later.  But Tottenham kept going forward and Keane got the ball into the net only for the linesman to rule it out for a foul by Chimbonda before he knocked the ball down to the Irishman.  The low ball into the goalmouth was working a treat, but the finishing touch could not be applied.  Keane failed again, when Berba and Chimbonda had worked a good move on the right.  It was Robbie's last action, as Adel Taarabt came on for him to try and make something happen. 

Dawson and King were comfortable at the back, glad to be back in harness together no doubt, with Chimbonda and Lee doing well outside them.  They used the ball out of defence, with Ledley often bringing it out himself and started attacks, like the one that saw Lennon turn Duberry one way, then the other, before once more knocking a low ball into the near post area.  This time Dimitar was on it, but instead of turning it into the goal, he managed to stand on the ball and the opening was closed.  Federici was called into action when Taarabt cut in from the left and from 22 yards out, he hit a low shot, but there was not enough on it to trouble the goalie unnecessarily.

Hunt sliced a shot from 25 yards a long way wide and then at the other end, Bikey got involved with a through ball and managed to slice his clearance up in the air and luckily for him, it landed on the top of his own net.  But once more Spurs were undone by a slack piece of defending.  A ball to the left was picked up by Lita and he cut inside the area, running across King and got his shot away, which Robinson dived full length to parry.  No defender reacted quickly enough, with Hunt nipping in to hit a shot across the keeper and Dawson to net the equaliser with 12 minutes left. 

From that point, Tottenham were more or less out of it.  Tommy Hud came on for Steed with a view to using his passing to open the Reading defence.  Unfortunately, it looked like he came closer to opening Convey's forehead with a but as the ball ran out of play on the Spurs left.  It was uncharacteristic and the Yank got a yellow card, so there must have been some provocation, but it was on the opposite side of the pitch from my seat, so it was hard to work out why he saw red. 

There was one last chance for Spurs, when Cisse floored Taarabt, but Jenas played the ball into the part of the visitors area where there was no Spurs man.

The final three minutes of added time were backs to the wall stuff.  Jenas brought down Lita when he robbed Zokora of the ball 40 yards out and bore down on goal, then the Ivorian got a yellow card for not retreating ten yards from a corner.  This may have been planned, as this was his last game before he goes off to the African Nations Cup and this may have given him a suspension, which he can serve in the games he misses while he is away with his country in Ghana.

A late free-kick was blocked by Zokora as he raced out of the defensive wall and an even later corner, the source of so many goals against, was this time headed out and cleared upfield by Michael Dawson.

So, we have to do it all over again.  At a time when games are coming thick and fast, it was probably not the best result, but at the end we were hanging on to the result, when we should have been well out of sight much earlier.

I suppose, that even despite the superiority we had in attacking terms, we should be glad to still be in the Cup and having taken the three points in ten goal game, perhaps the end results were the right way around.  However, the shooting boots need to be packed for the Madejski on 15th January.



Reaction : -












Other scores this round :
Aston Villa 0 Manchester United 2 Saturday
Barnsley 2 Blackpool 1 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Coventry City 4 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 0 Sheffield United 1 Saturday
Brighton and Hove Albion 1 Mansfield Town 2 Saturday
Bristol City 1 Middlesbrough 2 Saturday
Burnley - Arsenal - Sunday
Charlton Athletic 1 West Bromwich Albion 1 Saturday
Chasetown 1 Cardiff City 3 Saturday
Chelsea 1 QPR 0 Saturday
Colchester United 1 Peterborough United 3 Saturday
Derby County - Sheffield Wednesday - Sunday
Everton 0 Oldham Athletic 1 Saturday
Fulham - Bristol Rovers - Sunday
Huddersfield Town 2 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Ipswich Town 0 Portsmouth 1 Saturday
Luton Town - Liverpool - Sunday
Norwich City 1 Bury 1 Saturday
Plymouth Argyle 3 Hull City 2 Saturday
Preston North End 1 Scunthorpe United 0 Saturday
SCBC 2 Leicester City 0 Saturday
Southend United 5 Dagenham & Redbridge 2 Saturday
Stoke City - Newcastle United - Sunday
Sunderland 0 Wigan Athletic 3 Saturday
Swansea City 1 Havant & Waterloovile 1 Saturday
Swindon Town 1 Barnet 1 Saturday
Tranmere Rovers 2 Hereford United 2 Saturday
Walsall 0 Millwall 0 Saturday
Watford 2 Crystal Palace 0 Saturday
West Ham United 0 Manchester City 0 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Cambridge United 1 Saturday


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