Royals start new year with defeat
White Hart Lane
1st January 2013
Reading started the new year with defeat to Tottenham, as the Royals put in a hearted display in their 3-1 defeat at White Hart Lane.
Brian McDermott opted to named an unchanged side for the third consecutive game, despite playing their third game in six days. It was a frantic start at White Hart Lane, as Reading took a surprise early lead in North London, thanks to Pavel Pogrebnyak. The Russian won a free kick on the egde of the area, which Ian Harte managed to slam against the bar, but the striker managed to nod home the rebound.
The Royals have been criminal at not being able to hold leads this season and it was to come to light again, as Spurs found an equaliser just five minutes later. Former Reading player Gylfi Sigurdsson's corner was not dealt with by Reading and Michael Dawson attacked the near post to put the home side on level terms. Que the one -way traffic that followed after this.
After setting up the first goal, Sigurdsson wanted to get himself on the scoresheet and almost did so, but Alex Pearce managed to deflect his effort onto the roof of the net. England international Jermain Defoe was linked with a move to Berkshire back in the summer and looking very lively in this encounter and almost put his side infront, but his fizzing effort from 22-yards went just wide.
Reading were struggling to see any of the ball in the closing stages of the first half, but did plunger a rare attack as Jimmy Kebe's lofted ball was volleyed wide by captain McAnuff. Despite this constant Spurs pressure, Federici was rarely worked in the opening period, but was tested in injury time, as Sandro's deflected effort had to be dealt with by the Australian international to keep the score level at the break.
The second half began as the first ended, with Andre Villas-Boas' side pushing the crucial goal that would put them in front. However, just six minutes in, they managed to get this goal thanks to Emmanuel Adebayor, as he powerfully headed home Aaron Lennon's cross to the back post. It was a hammer blow for the away side, who would have hoped to hold out for longer against the third-placed side.
A response was minimal from Brian McDermott's side, with Sandro threatening to extend the lead further with a long-range drive. Dembele was next in line to have an effort at Adam Federici's goal, but the goalkeeper dealt with his shot comfortably. However, Reading did start to pressurise the Spurs backline around the hour mark and had some fantastic chances to put make the scoreline equal.
Firstly, the ever-improving Pavel Pogrebnyak broke free down the right side and forced a decent save out of Hugo Lloris, but the former Fulham forward managed to header the rebound wide, when he really should have done better. Next it was Jimmy Kebe that was set free in the Spurs penalty area, following a smart pass from Adam Le Fondre. but a Spurs defender deflected his effort wide to the home fans relief.
From the resulting corner, defender Alex Pearce rose highest and thought he had put his side level, but the forehead of skipper Michael Dawson was to keep the score in the favour of the home side. As a result, Reading were to rue these missed chances to draw level, as Spurs killed the game off with a rather fortuitous third goal with over ten minutes to play at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham substitute Clint Dempsey had an effort from long-range, which deflected off Royals midfielder Mikele Leigertwood and gave Adam Federici no chance in the goal, which would confine Reading to a first defeat in three games. Spurs came within inches of a fourth through Defoe, as he found a pocket of space on the left side, but his rasping drive was kept out convincing by Federici.
Despite this defeat, as Brian has said, we can take tremendous heart from this game, as Spurs are a very solid outfit. It was great to see us take an early lead, but it may well have been the worst thing we could have done, as a response was always going to be likely from the home side. We can now look forward to our home game with West Brom in two weeks time, which is a winnable fixture from our point of view.
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Vertonghen, Dawson, Naughton, Lennon, Sandro, Dembele, Sigurdsson, Defoe, Adebayor
Subs: Friedel, Dempsey, Huddlestone, Parker, Falque, Livermore, Caulker
Reading: Federici, Gunter, Mariappa, Pearce, Harte Kebe, Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff, Guthrie, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Cummings, Morrison, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, Le Fondre, Hunt