|With the pitches at Spurs Lodge swirling
with mist, it was lucky that it lifted before kick-off or there would
not have been a match.
As it was, by the time both sides ran out
from their dressing rooms, the mist was clearing and it was possible to
see both end of the pitch. I don't know if it was the cold
weather, but neither side looked particularly up for it at the
beginning, with Reading having the better of the early exchanges.
Straight from the kick-off they had a shot over the bar and another just
a couple of minutes after. However, it was the Tottenham winger
Mario Noto who had the best early opportunity with a looping header
from ten yards out that was cleared from under the bar by a defender's
There then followed a disjointed spell
of play with neither side wanting to hold onto the ball and Jimmy
Neighbour's plaintive cries for his team to talk to each other and to
hold on to the ball echoed across the pitch. However, he was more
cheerful when a cross from deep on the the right by Tyrie found Nicky
Wettner. He shot, but it was blocked and as the ball was played back in
Michael Malcolm moved to the near post and got the final touch past the
Reading keeper, although some felt it was an own goal. So, 31
minutes gone and 1-0 up, despite not playing as well as they can.
This sparked Spurs into life though
and in the next minute, Michael Malcolm seized on a chance in the box to
force Young in the Reading goal tip the ball upwards and onto the
bar. However, Reading went down the other end of the pitch,
drawing a free-kick on the right. It was swung in and Rutherford
did well to push the ball around the post as it shot off the wet
As the game moved into injury time,
Spurs forced a corner on the left was swung over and centre half Danny
Foster flicked it into the heart of the penalty area. It found
David Tyrie, also up from the back and he controlled it and slid it in
for the second goal.
Tottenham had been the more
adventurous in the first half and for all the hard work the physical
Reading side had undertaken in closing Spurs down, they had created few
clear chances that had taxed the Tottenham rearguard.
An hour into the game, another Spurs
corner was cleared, but as it was played back in towards three white
shirted players, McKie shot and the keeper appeared to have the ball,
but fumbled it and as it got towards the line, Malcolm rammed it into
the roof of the net to make sure of the third goal for Tottenham.
The floodgates looked set to open up,
but although Spurs had chance after chance they could not add to the
score. two minutes after the goal, Wettner was presented with a
chance by a poor kick out by the goalie, but shot straight back at him,
while a minute later lobbed over Young as he came out of his box, but
ended up too wide to get a shot in.
On 69 minutes, Yeates forced an
acrobatic save from the Royals keeper, who tipped the ball over the top
and then he denied Wettner again when one-on-one clean through the
defence. With just ten minutes left, Spurs took a short corner on
the left. Ford touched to Yeates, who put in a cross to the near
post where Foster flicked on and Tyrie moved onto the ball in a replay
of the second goal. Unfortunately, this time he skied his volley
over the crossbar from about three yards out.
Rutherford made his first save of the
second half with 83 minutes gone, as he came out to block a shot from
Reading substitute Cox and did the same in injury time to the same
player, making a smart save at the near post to preserve Tottenham's
scoreline. However, in between, Michael
Malcolm could have extended that lead. Just four
minutes from the end of normal time, Malcolm was clean through, but
could not feed the ball through to Yeates. The same situation
arose a couple of minutes later, when he went alone from the half-way
line and was foiled at the near post by the keeper.
In the end, Tottenham deserved their
win, as Reading were not quite up to it. Of the visiting players
there were only two who caught the eye. Firstly, Simeon Howell,
who looks a classy midfielder with vision and ability. If
Tottenham have a reciprocal deal with the Berkshire club, then this boy
could be worth taking a close look at. The second Reading player
who was prominent was their centre half Theo. However, it was for
all the wrong reasons. He was at fault for one of the goals and
almost scored an own goal when he passed back to the keeper and the ball
jumped over Young's foot as he went to control it. He was
constantly trying to wind the Spurs forwards up and if he could only
play as well as he talked, he would be some player.
For Tottenham, Foster was outstanding
at the back. he has presence and power, which can also be put to good
use in the opposition's penalty area. Tyrie had a sound game and
found time to get forward to score, while McKie seemed a little nervous
on the ball, but settled in the second half and looked good getting
forward. Lee Barnett looked quiet compared to the last time I had
seen him play and was substituted. Jonathan Black was also
impressive - always available and wanting the ball, but covering huge
areas of the pitch to cover defensively too. Mario Noto didn't
have a lot of the ball, but did well with the possession he did have,
while his fellow winger Tim Ford got stronger as the game went on,
showing a neat trick or two to make the most of his slight frame against
a big side.
Nicky Wettner began the game by
conceding possession too often, but again, as the game wore on, he
imposed himself on the Reading defence and should have scored. In
the forward line, Mark Yeates was tireless in his work. Both
running off the ball and also closing down the visiting defenders, he
worked his socks off and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.
Finally, Michael Malcolm ended up with two goals and he really does know
how to work the line. He plays right on the shoulder of the last
man and has the speed to capitalise on any ball behind the
defence. Another one who is slight in build, but he is quick and
has good skill too, along with a striker's knack of being on the spot
A good win despite inclement
conditions and a stuttering start , but Jimmy's boys are coming along
nicely. David Pleat, John Moncur (senior) and Alan Suddaby
watching the game would all have approved.
For photos of the match, click here.
TEAMS : -
Tottenham : - Rutherford; Tyrie,
Foster, McKie (Dobson 75); Black, Barnett (Seitz (triallist) 65), Noto
(Perry 75), Wettner, Ford; Yeates, Malcolm.
Unused Subs : - Price, Watson.
Reading : - Young; Castle (Ken 75),
Theo, Middleton, Oliver (Cox); Howell, Jones, Davies, Earle; Campbell (Osano),
MARCO VAN HIP