A Jermaine Defoe brace helped Tottenham to their first win of the season, proving victorious 3-1 over a slacking Reading side at the Madejski Stadium.
The main talking point before the match was who was going to be playing between the sticks for both sides. Spurs decided to stick with 40-year old Brad Freidel over new summer signing Hugo Lloris, while Brian McDermott took the brave option of dropping regular first choice keeper Adam Federici, in favour of Alex McCarthy.
The home side started the encounter very much on the back foot, with Spurs dictating the majority of the early play. Incoming keeper McCarthy was the first goalkeeper to come into action during the opening exchanges, saving from former Royal Gylfi Sigurdsson, then Vertonghen’s powerful follow up.
Andre Villas-Boas’ side continued their domination and came within inches of taking the lead at the Madejski Stadium, but Gareth Bale’s neat flick past Alex McCarthy trickled just wide. Reading then had half a shout for a penalty as a free kick swung in from Ian Harte was clearly handled by Kyle Walker, but Howard Webb instead gave the visitors a free kick for a push on the England international.
However, it was to be a baptism of fire for the Royals as Tottenham deservedly took the lead at the Madejski on 17 minutes. A neat pass inside from Gylfi Sigurdsson allowed Lennon space down the right in the box and to pull back for the oncoming Jermaine Defoe to slot home from 10 yards.
Instead of a response from the Premier League new boys, Spurs looked content on extending their lead further. First Sandro’s long range drive was parried by McCarthy, before Defoe had a superb chance to double his tally as he wrong-footed Alex Pearce with a neat touch, but his effort went wide.
England Under 21 international Alex McCarthy then had his heart in his mouth with half time ten minutes away, as his loose touch allows Defoe to steal the ball of him. However, the striker pulled back for Icelander Sigurdsson whose tame effort from five yards was hacked off the line by defender Alex Pearce.
Reading failed to get into their stride at all in the first period, with the occasion clearly getting to the majority of the players. Their best piece of play came on 40 minutes as Pavel Pogrebnyak charged into the Spurs area and his blocked shot came to Jobi McAnuff, who wasted his effort from the edge of the box.
The only positive for Brian McDermott’s side at the half time break would have been that the score was only one up to the visitors. Royals boss McDermott decided to chuck on Adam Le Fondre in the search for goals, and the Berkshire outfit certainly showed extended signs of life in the second period.
Despite some improved and more fluent play from Reading, Spurs had the best chance in the opening minutes of the second half, as a stinging Gareth Bale cross was somehow put over he bar from six yards by the impressive Defoe. The energetic Le Fondre was proving a thorn in Tottenham’s side and almost latched on to a clever pass from Danny Guthrie.
The prominent Defoe had another effort just wide, before Spurs did eventually double their advantage at the Madejski Stadium. Right back Kyle Walker found space on the right side to fire in a low cross, which Gareth Bale made scruffy but effective contact with, for it to loop over the by-standing Alex McCarthy and into the net.
The game was then put beyond doubt, once again thanks to man of the match Jermaine Defoe. Tottenham broke in numbers and the England striker had space to drive past Alex Pearce and finish superbly with his left foot and give Spurs a deserved, renounding lead.
Many Royals fans watched on, deflated as they watched their team fall apart after some promising signs of attacking intent. William Gallas also proved his worth, as he cleared off the line from Le Fondre’s goalbound effort, before Defoe had a half chance to claim his hat trick, following good work from substitute Andros Townsend.
Reading fans did however have something to shout about as full time approached, as they gained a consolation goal on the 90 minute mark. The energetic Adam Le Fondre found his way into Spurs penalty box and his chipped effort was finished off well at the back post by forward Hal Robson-Kanu.
Despite a late penalty shout turned down for the Royals again from referee Howard Webb, the game finished 3-1 to the visiots, in what was a humbling defeat for Brian McDermott’s. Tottenham may be decent opposition, but there is no doubt some of the Royals players performances played into their hands.
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Karacan, Leigertwood, McCleary, Guthrie, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Mariappa, Cummings, Shorey, Robson-Kanu, Hunt, Le Fondre
Tottenham: Freidel, Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Naughton, Sandro, Dembele, Lennon, Sigurdsson, Bale, Defoe
Subs: Lloris, Caulker, Dawson, Huddlestone, Dempsey, Townsend, Adebayor
Made a good start with two early saves, but his confidence would have been dented by the Defoe mistake which went unpunished. Poor distribution and kicking.
Wasn’t overly bad but seemed to struggle with Bale more in the second period. Did however make some good over-lapping runs.
Was probably beaten way too easily for the third goal and very lucky to get away with a similar incident in the first half. However, Pearcey did make a crucial goal line clearance from Sig.
The Latvia captain was slightly shaky yesterday. Distribution was poor and was out muscled too easily by Defoe for the third.
For the first time this season, looked out of his depth. Was getting beaten every time by Lennon and set pieces was also very poor.
Was one of our best players in the first period and was very unlucky to be subbed at half time. Would have preferred him in the centre with Ledge for the second half.
Surprisingly poor in the challenge and looked very frustrated during the game. Didn’t pass the ball quick enough during the game and was punished for it.
Our only bright spark and the only one that seemed relatively interested. Got the better of Naughton a few times, but would have wanted more help from Gunter in the first half.
Wasn’t his day today, didn’t get the space he wanted in a very compact Spurs midfield. Tried to do a little too much at times.
After today’s showing, he is not up to Premier League football. Very wasteful and predictable when cutting inside.
The big man didn’t do a lot wrong. Did not get a look in the first half, but when ALF came on, looked like he may get on the score sheet.
Le Fondre 7
Changed the game for us. Made those runs into the channels that stretched the Spurs back four. Smart cross-shot for the goal. Should start against West Brom next week.
Didn’t do a lot once he came on, but grabbed himself a goal. Did well to get on the end of it.
Didn’t make a massive impact, but worked hard as ever.