After two games full of incident, perhaps this FA Cup Third Round replay
was due to be a drab affair and the glut of goals had to dry up at some
Leaving the ill Berbatov out
meant that the match would not feature another goal from the Bulgarian
forward. But Defoe was included and he is always keen to get on
the scoresheet, with the little line-up at the front completed by Robbie
Keane and later when Defoe was replaced by Aaron Lennon. It was a
game which saw the woodwork hit three times and a performance from
Spurs, which almost replicated the League Cup tie at Eastlands a few
One goal was enough, but when Reading
decided they should really try and play the game in the second half,
they had the chances to pull level, but they went unclaimed, leaving
them with exactly what their manager wanted out of the tie ... an FA Cup
With King rested and Kaboul back in and
Tainio in for O'Hara, the team took on an unusual look, but they started
with energy and some good passing. Early corners were exchanged at
either end, but nothing came from them. Jenas made a lung-busting
run and tried to cross for Keane, but the ball was inches away from the
Jermain Defoe did get on the end of
Younes Kaboul's flick on from a cross, but could not keep his own header
below the bar, but then as soon as the ball had got to the other end,
Leroy Lita broke through the middle of the Tottenham defence and only
Cerny's quick advance put the Reading forward off so much, that he not
only failed to get the bouncing ball past the keeper, but he threw
himself to the floor, looking for a penalty, but only got a yellow card.
With 14 minutes on the clock, Defoe went
up to meet Jenas' cross at the far post, only to be denied as
Ingarmarsson knocked it away for a corner. Jermaine went across to
take it and swung the ball into the six yard box, where Kaboul met it
powerfully. Federici did well to get something on the big
Frenchman's header and tipped it up onto the bar, but it bounced out and
dropped kindly in the goal-mouth, where Robbie Keane was stationed and
his reaction to the chance saw him flick the ball forward into the net
to give Tottenham the lead.
Kaboul gained confidence with the header
and his mastery of Lita, allowing him to go on a forward foray with the
ball, as he rampaged up the left wing before crossing just beyond Keane.
Reading's best chance to date came just afterwards when Convey failed to
show enough conviction to reach a ball in from Rosenior, as he made the
most of the space on his side of the pitch.
With Chimbonda looking les than
interested in the whole affair and Boateng not getting into his game
with the club yet, it left Spurs having a disjointed look about them.
A corner into the area was knocked down by Cerny, who was lucky that
Lita could only blast over the crossbar from about 12 yards out, while a
Tottenham passing move then brought a fine diving save out of Federici,
as Boateng pulled a cross back to the penalty spot, where Defoe cracked
a volley that the keeper did very well to push aside.
A few flutters went through Tottenham
fans hearts just before the interval when Teemu Tainio miscued a
clearance and the ball flew over his own bar, instead of in. Just
the other side of the break, Defoe tried to chip the Reading goalie, but
got too much height on it and it sailed over the top. Reading's
response was a move that saw Shorey line up a shot on the edge of the
area, but he could not execute it and put the ball about three yards
wide with the inside of his foot. Rosenior blasted a good chance
too high when it looked as if he might threaten the Tottenham goal, as
substitutions were made.
Spurs were trying to play keep-ball and
Reading were at least making some effort to score. The closest
they came was from that little Hunt, who got the ball just on the right
corner of the Spurs penalty box and hit a first time half-volley that
bounced back out off the angle of crossbar and post. The ball was
played back in, but Cerny made a fairly comfortable dive to stop Cox's
Further turmoil in the Tottenham defence
arose when Kaboul went off and Stalteri came on, requiring Chimbonda to
adopt his laughable position in the middle of the back four and Stalts
go to right back.
They did OK after a shaky start and in
added time right at the end they were opened up, as Convey floated a
cross to Cisse at the back stick and he headed it at goal, but straight
at Cerny. This had come just after a good move by Spurs saw O'Hara
spread the ball wide to Keane, who took the ball down with some good
chest control and his cross to Steed was volleyed fiercely at goal and
once more, Federici did well to get a fingertip on the ball, which took
it up onto the bar and away.
It was not much of a game and it was one
in which Spurs did just enough, but came out of it with a clean sheet.
It was not all of their own making, as Reading failed to thoroughly test
the back line, but Kaboul did well while he was on and Gunter showed
promise and a fair turn of pace on his debut. Jenas' presence in
midfield was welcome and he showed some good runs and some good tracking
Missing Berbatov was a blow, but the
others made up for it and perhaps his cold was a little convenient, with
next week's semi approaching.
But before that, we have another tough
battle ahead with Sunderland coming to the Lane. We will need to
be a bit sharper and a bit more ruthless to get the points from that
one, but thoughts of Man U can be put on hold for the moment and the
good points of this game need to be picked out and put into use more