Sunday, November 12, 2006

SOLEMN JOL Reading 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur

The bubble has burst? You're having a laugh!

Reading shrugged off four league defeats on the spin and the concession of the opening goal in this game for a victory which was as satisfying as taking off a pair of tight shoes. It was a relief to get some points on the board and to do so in style with the best textbook example of how to come from behind this side of Brighton.

The re-introduction of Captain Marvel Murty was a big boost before the game, our right back had finally shrugged off troublesome hamstring injuries to lead his side with aplomb. The defensive 4-5-1 of last weekend was thankfully abandoned for a more familiar 4-4-2 with Seol supporting Doyle upfront. And Coppell's tinkering seemed to be working in the early stages; in each of the previous three league games - all lost - we have fallen behind inside the first fifteen minutes and been forced to chase the game, without success. Sidwell, flame-haired beacon of the Madejski midfield minefield, put Doyle through and his effort flashed across goal whilst a goaline clearance by Murty from Keane was the kind of stuff heroes are made of. It had been an entertaining first half of the first half with Reading more than holding their own, which made the Spurs opener even more disappointing.

Keane fed Ghally waltzing into the box and Sonko slid across and took out his man. Fury as referee Rob Styles, never a popular visitor to the MadStad, pointed to the spot but a stonewall certain decision in the opinion of Floyd on Football. It was a no-brainer of a decision and having no brain, Styles gave the chance for KEANE to put Tottenham ahead. Hahnemann had to save smartly from a Berbatov range-finder as Spurs momentarily looked the more likely to get the next goal. But it was Reading who crucially scored the second of the day; tricky Little fed a pass across to SHOREY who set himself up for a 25 yard pearler into the bottom corner. A glorious goal which lifted everyone.

And Spurs went in behind at half time to the gleeful acclaim of the patient Reading crowd who had not seen a home goal at the Madejski for well over 3 hours of football. The relentless Doyle earned a corner, swung in with typical Little quality for SIDWELL to crash home from 6 yards after the ball had flicked off Doyle. The comfort of a halftime lead for the first time in 6 weeks was an enjoyable experience to revisit, and the second half - which didn't always go Reading's way - was a good spectacle with Berbatov's criminally unmarked free header straight at Hahnemann, Doyle warming the palms of Robinson and substitute and perennial thorn in the Reading side Defoe being the the highlights of the half. That was until a thrilling Reading clincher which sparked an exciting final ten minutes when either side could have added to their tally.

The gamebreaker was delivered by Doyle who gave King and Dawson an uncomfortable time throughout. Hahnemann's goalkick, flicked on by lively Lita on as substitute into the past of DOYLE who finished low past England's goalkeeping buffoon Paul Robinson. This sparked the biggest mass exodus of Spurs fans since the days of Christian Gross as the away end emptied, disgruntled visitors being sent on their way with chants of cheerio cheerio cheerio ringing in their ears. The crowing Reading fans almost had more to celebrate as Lita's touch deserted him with Doyle unmarked in the middle. Leroy almost made ammends when his excellent header came back off the upright from another typically smark Shorey centre and the busy Lita made a chance which rolled behind the onrushing, determined James Harper who slumped to the floor in disappointment. Spurs responded with a Defoe cracker which came back off the inside of the post and resulted in Berbatov firing the recycled ball high into the North Stand. It was a lucky escape, but Reading had already earned their spurs.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Little (Gunnarsson, 85), Sidwell, Harper, Hunt (Oster, 79), Seol (Lita, 74), Doyle. Subs not used: Federici, Bikey.

Floyd on Football: Sidwell. Played like the powerhouse we have missed in recent weeks.


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