With defences playing only a fleeting part of this game, an end of year
goal feast was laid in front of the 36,000 plus at White Hart Lane as
Spurs gorged themselves a bit more on the chances going begging than
The second highest
goals total in a Premier League game came with the final score-line of
6-4 to Spurs, when the game looked lost after going behind for the third
time at 3-4, but Ramos' gamble in going with three at the back salvaged
the game and then reverting to four at the back again, Spurs went on to
I don't think I have ever seen a game
like it and it surpassed the 4-4 earlier in the season with Aston Villa.
Although a couple of our goals looked dubious, the argument should
really have been about how both sides are mid-table when they ship so
many goals. It is the second time Reading have scored four away
from home and gone back to Berkshire pointless.
When Young-Pyo Lee moved forward in the
first couple of minutes and hit a shot that hit the target and brought a
dive from Hahnemann to save, perhaps we should have known something was
going to happen. It is not often shots from Lee don't end up in
row Z !!
When the first goal came, it was a simple
affair. Steed Malbranque, who had a another fine match, slid a
pass through the Reading defence into the right hand channel of the
penalty area for Robbie Keane. Later in the game, Keane was
flagged off-side a couple of times when it was marginal, but he escaped
the linesman's eagle eye on this occasion and calmly delivered a square
pass along the six yard line for Dimitar Berbatov to come in behind the
defender to side-foot home with ease. A sixth minute lead was just
what we wanted to make Reading have to come out and play, with it also
giving us something to build on.
But like so many times this season, we
have had to defend a lead and it didn't last too long. The defence
had done well to prevent anything getting through to Robinson until a
free-kick was awarded for an unnecessary temperamental swing of the boot
by Berbatov into Shorey's back on the Reading left wing by the halfway
line. Shorey played a high ball into the penalty area, where a
host of players were gathered around the penalty spot. Robinson
came for it and tried to punch, but Kaboul was keen to head it away and
between the two of them, they only succeeded in clearing the ball to the
edge of the box, where Kalifa Cisse was standing and he guided a volley
back towards goal, which went through the clump of players to equalise
in the 16th minute.
It was another avoidable goal which we
conceded and lead to a spell of Reading pressure, which they had not
threatened before the leveller. Robbo had to be on his toes a
couple of minutes later as Hunt's cross flicked off Lee's heel and
looped up and nearly went in at the angle, but Paul tipped it over the
bar as it spun wildly.
Jenas had returned after injury and found
it hard to get into the game, but he made a good burst into the area on
the left side, but couldn't pull his cross back far enough to find
Berbatov or Keane and it went straight into Hahnemann's arms. At
the other end, it took until the 33rd minute for another good chance,
when Lennon was penalised for a foul on Convey on the edge of the area
and Shorey stepped up to hit the free-kick goal-wards. Luckily for
Spurs, it was a bit too close to goal to allow him to get it down over
the wall and it went over the bar, wit Robinson having it covered
anyway. Both teams tried to break through, but only Keane's first
time shot that flew well over got close to goal.
Then, in the last minute of the half,
Kaboul played a ball down the left wing, which Ingamarsson seemed to
have covered, but his slip let in Berbatov to pull the ball across the
face of goal with Robbie running in, but he went for it with his right
foot instead of his left and missed converting it by inches, leaving the
teams level at 1-1 at the break.
Little did we know what the second half
held when both teams resumed for the restart.
YP got a good block on Doyle's shot in
the opening minutes and Berbatov struck and outrageous lazy volley when
his cross was blocked, but his effort landed on top of the net rather
than in it. A long Huddlestone free-kick from the left saw
Chimbonda get a header across the box ahead of Shorey, but as Keane
tried to control the ball to swivel and get a shot in, he was knocked
off the ball by a combination of Ingimarsson and Sonko, but no penalty
was given. Then just after 50 minutes, Aaron Lennon cut in from
the right wing to hit a left foot shot straight at Hahnemann, with
Dimitar right in line, slightly unsighting the keeper.
This was when it all started. In
the 52nd minute, Reading took the lead for the first time.
Chimbonda made a good stretching block to deny Kitson and from the
corner, Ingimarsson lost Hud and had a free header from a yard out that
left Robinson helpless as it was knocked down with great power.
Reading were now in the ascendancy and only a couple of quick-thinking
rushes from his goal-line by Paul Robinson stopped Kitson adding to the
Reading tally. The first saw a lucky bounce take the ball past the
Tottenham defenders on the edge of the area leaving him through on Robbo,
but the goalie made himself big as Kitson dithered and then a few
minutes later Robinson smothered the ball as Kitson took a second touch
in the area. There was a strange substitution by Ramos saw Ledley
King stunned to be going off when Jermain Defoe was standing waiting to
enter the fray and this played into the Royals' hands with the defence
all over the place as Hunt ran through and only a sharp save by Robinson
kept the ball out and made up for his earlier blunder. Then a high
ball caused all sort of problems and it wasn't cleared effectively, so
when it dropped to Kitson, he tried his luck from 20 yards out and the
ball fizzed wide.
Despite this, Tottenham capitalised on a
poor piece of defending by Murty. Defoe showed why he had been
brought on, sprinting away from the defence as he ran onto a ball into
the right hand corner of the pitch. Jinking to the by-line, he
pulled the ball back into the six yard box and Murty swung a boot at it,
but the ball only went as far as Berbatov, who rifled it straight back,
bulging the back of the net with the Reading captain and the keeper both
left helpless by the ferocity of the shot. So 63 minutes and it
was now 2-2.
Spurs were now asking the questions, as
Huddlestone hit a shot straight at Hahnemann and then Keane played
Jermain in, but as he flicked the ball up, he could not get sufficient
space to turn on it and totally missed the ball with his shot.
Spurs brought on Kevin-Prince Boateng for Aaron Lennon, who had not been
able to get into the game that much, with the aim to strengthen the
Doyle attempted to fire in a shot, but
Hud was back defending and blocked it out for a 70th minute corner.
Shorey once more whipped the ball in and this time it went to the near
post, where Kitson had pulled away from Kaboul and met it in front of
the near post. The ball flashed across the goal and went in at the
far post, despite Malbranque's effort to keep it out. Another
set-piece ... another goal conceded.
With Murty having a bit of a mare,
Coppell brought on Ulysses De La Cruz, who was, I suppose supposed to
shore things up at the back. Good plan. Not actually
something that came to fruition though.
Another burst forward by Jenas brought
Cisse across to slide the ball away from him for a corner. As the
former Forest midfielder crossed to the far post, Chimbonda got to it,
but his header only went up in the air and as it dropped, Berbatov used
his body to ease a defender out of the way and he tucked away a volley
from close to his body past the rooted Hahnemann from six yards out for
a well taken hat-trick. The crowd went wild, as it had been so
long since a Spurs player had recorded a treble.
Not that we were cheering for long, as a
move broke down on the edge of the Reading box, when Boateng tried to
thread a pass through and suddenly, the ball was switched forward and
our defence was split open down the middle, as Hunt ran with the ball,
then released it to Kitson on his left to allow the striker to prod it
over Robinson as he came out low. The Spurs fan celebrated his
second, which gave Reading the lead for the third time in the 73rd
A minute later, Tommy got the ball 25
yards out and despite the calls of the fans to shoot, he played a ball
on the ground, through to Malbranque on the left side of the area, who
cut inside onto his right foot and curled a shot round the keeper and
into the roof of the net. 4-4 and just 90 seconds after Reading
had regained the lead, it was all square again.
Watching the game, it was breathless
stuff. Goodness knows what it was like to play in. but
within another 90 seconds Tottenham were ahead for the first time in the
second half. A minute after Steed's leveller, Tommy got the
ball 25 yards out and despite the calls of the fans to shoot, he played
a ball on the ground, through to Robbie in the box, where he was floored
by Sonko before he could line up a shot. Penalty. Keane got
up to take the kick himself and after his miss against Arsenal last
week, we all held our breath. He ran up, without a stutter in his
run this time, but hit low to Hahnemann's right, the keeper guessed
correctly and beat the ball out. Luckily for Tottenham, Defoe was
the first one following in and nodded the ball into an unguarded net as
it popped up kindly for him. Defoe had gone into the box early and
was about three yards into the box when Keane struck the spot-kick, but
it was just one more thing that Stroud missed on the day.
The miss ended Keane's action for the
day, as Tainio came on to play right back and things were shifted around
once more. There were still ten minutes left and at the rate goals
had been scored there was still time for at least another one.
And that is exactly what happened.
82 minutes gone and Kaboul's long through ball over the top found
Dimitar shouldering his man to get there first and from the edge of the
box, waited for it to sit up nicely for him to lash it past Hahnemann,
despite the keeper getting his hand to the ball to round off the scoring
at 6-4. The crowd and the players went nuts !! Berbatov hit
four goals in what was a fairly quiet performance for him for long
periods of the match.
Still the action didn't stop, as Defoe
went on a run from left to right and from 23 yards out hit a pile-driver
that the keeper could only beat out and then, when Reading finally got
near the Spurs goal substitute Shane Long decided to barge Kaboul out of
the way, even though there was no chance of the man in hoops getting the
ball, which was in Robinson's hands. Another yellow card and then
it was time for the ref to blow the final whistle.
Phew !! One of my friends watching
the game with me wanted to stay after the players had left the field,
just in case there were any more goals to go in !!
The result was a fantastic one for
Tottenham, who needed the three points to stay in touch with the top
half teams. But more than that, it looked as though our kamikaze
defending had cost us an initial winning position, so the spirit and
Ramos' belief in playing the same way whether things were going your way
or not seemed to pull them through.
Well, that and Reading being a bit crap.
The score hides our defensive failings -
well, it doesn't really - but what we need to do is defend better in
tight games, where we might not have the opportunity to score with
almost every attack.
That will be put to the test in the next
game against Villa, which I hesitate to guess will neither finish 6-4
nor 4-4. And we face Reading again next Saturday in the FA Cup.
A repeat goal feast ? Again, I think this was a one-off and the
Cup tie might be a tighter affair. but you never know !!