Wednesday 1st August 2001



Reading  0   Tottenham  2   -  Friendly  Wednesday 1st August 2001

Weather : -  Warm, dry, little wind
Crowd : -   21,874
Referee : -  Mr. Armstrong.
Scorers : -  Reading  -  None
                    Tottenham  -  Poyet 25, Rebrov 90. 

Reading: Whitehead, Whitbread, Robinson, Viveash (Igoe 67), Parkinson (Gamble 67), Williams, Rougier (Henderson 78), Harper, Butler (Fashanu 82), Murty (Casper 82), Smith.

Spurs: Sullivan, Carr, Ziege, Doherty, King, Bunjevcevic, Anderton, Freund, Poyet, Ferdinand, Rebrov.
Unused subs : - G. Kelly, Perry, Davies, Sherwood, Leonhardsen, Iversen.

With the sun belting down on the shiny new stadium ,it was fitting that a bumper crowd turned out to cheer the Biscuitmen on against the mighty Spurs.  With all roads leading to the Madjeski stadium named after some aspect or the team - Biscuit Way, Shooters Way, Royal Way, Boot End, etc. - there was a new feel about the ground and when you got inside, it was a pleasure to be there when it was full.

There was plenty for the crowd to shout about too, with thrills and spills and some hefty challenges for a "friendly".  A large percentage of the crowd were Spurs fans and they played their part in a pretty good match.  

The early moves came from Spurs, with Les getting into some good positions, but failing to finish off the passes to him.  One was blocked and another he appeared to get trapped under his feet as he went to shoot.  Meanwhile, at the other end, new signing Alex Smith was not causing Spurs trouble down the left, when he tried to trick his way past Doherty, but ended up just running the ball of the pitch.  He seemed t be the home side's main summer signing and didn't impress over-much during the time he spent on the pitch.  Former Gooner James Harper had the best early goal-scoring chance, when he ran through the centre of the Spurs defence and from the edge of the box tried to take the ball around Sullivan.  The keeper made his charge out of the six yard box at the right time and the Reading midfielder took a harder touch than he had hoped for and the ball was out for a goal-kick.

Spurs were passing the ball around nicely and from up behind the goal, the pitch looked big and that suited Tottenham.  Ziege was spraying the ball across to Carr and then the midfielders were working the ball across the box for an opportunity to open up the home defence.  It worked a treat after 25 minutes, when Ferdinand broke through onto an astute pass from Bunjevcevic.  Les looked like he was five years younger, when he sprinted towards the right hand side of the box, held the ball up, turned inside and laid the ball square for Gus Poyet to stroke it inside the near post with the keeper scrambling across.  It was a well-worked goal and one which Tottenham had deserved.  They made quite a few chances in the first half.  Ziege managed to get one off the other side of the pitch for a throw-in, while Anderton hit a free-kick over, Poyet made the keeper stretch to save and both Rebrov and Ferdinand were denied by Reading blocks (not like writers block).  

Ziege was creating chaos with his crosses into the box.  From one, the ball was smuggled away from the line at the near post and his subsequent cross found Poyet at the far post, who knocked it back in with a spectacular overhead kick.  Unfortunately, it went out of play.  Les was set up at the far stick, but was again denied, this time by a sharp save by Whitehead.  Dazza was also out to impress and hit a coupe of long range efforts - one on and one off target.  Sully was unoccupied for most of the first half, save for some back-passes, but he was left stranded when a  Royals midfielder flung himself horizontally at a cross and it went wide.

At the break, former Spurs and Reading star Johnny Brooks did the half-time draw and then this was followed by some of the most bizarre entertainment, which included trying to guess with the person next to you whether the number the DJ was going to call out was odd or even !!  Luckily, it was soon time for the second half to kick off.

If the first half had been comfortable for Tottenham, the second was a well worn old pair of slippers.  And Sullivan could have easily put his feet up as apart from a late surge, which ended with a shot way over the bar, he was rarely called upon.  The outfielders were having a better time of it, as the ferocity of the Reading tackling subsided.  Some hefty tackles from behind had floored Rebrov in particular and Bunjy was spoken to for some retribution in the second half, but the most heated exchange involved ... yes, you guessed it ... Poyet.  A Reading player caught him late and Gus gave a mouthful that brought a big cheer from the Spurs fans.

As for chances, Spurs were slightly off target and Whitehead was in top form, saving acrobatically from Ziege, Carr, Poyet and Anderton, when unsighted and just managed to get down to the ball before it slipped beneath his body.  Even Bunjy went up for a well worked corner, which Ziege dropped on his head as he pulled away at the far post, but the keeper managed to get a hand to it and deflect it onto the post before it bounced away.  Carr and Ziege both shot into the side-netting when breaking into the box and Poyet headed a Carr first time cross wide when he had some space around him.  Poor old Les, it wasn't his night.  He managed to have a clash of heads, kept having the ref talking to him for some reason and he even missed a one-on-one with the keeper as the match drew towards an end.

The second goal that Spurs had deserved came in the last minute, when another passing move across the face of the area found it's way to Sergei, who picked his spot in the corner of the net to wrap up a win over our Second Division hosts.  

I must say that on this showing we are in for some real entertainment this season.  I know it was only Reading, but the passing and movement is the like that hasn't been seen at Tottenham for many a year.  The side that started, finished and that must indicate that this closely resembles Hod's first XI, although Sheringham wasn't involved.  They stayed on to get some ninety minutes under their belts rather than the interminable substitutions that have been made in previous games.

For all the things that discount the result and performance here, the promise is there for the players to produce.  The season is coming nearer, so we'll soon find out how they cope.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - GUS POYET (kept things moving from midfield to the front)


Another entertaining display as the pre season friendlies draw to a close before the real stuff begins. The kick off was delayed by 20 minutes as 21,850 turned up on a warm summers evening. The game started quietly but we gradually got more control as first half went on. Anderton looked sharp with neat flicks and touches, Rebrov was all pace and Les was putting himself about like the Les of old. Bunjy and Docherty looked safe and calm at the back.
We took the lead after 25 minutes after a strong run by Ferdinand who delivered the ball to Poyet who swept the ball home from the left. This seemed to settle the team even more and the Reading keeper made two excellent saves to keep them in the game.
No changes at half time and we continued to stretch the home team all over the park. Sitting in the South stand for the last few seasons our lack of width has been embarrassing (David excepted). The only width I ever saw was my ex wife's hips, but things seem to be changing. Ziege looked a little rusty but you can tell he has class and we all know about Carr. Poyet missed a good chance from a Carr cross and Bunjy had a good header brilliantly saved. Anderton blasted wide and Carr produced another quality save from the keeper as he went the wrong way.
Things got slightly more physical in the second half but we continued to produce some nice one touch football. We finally got the second goal in the 90th minute when a strong run from Ziege reached Rebrov who struck a measured shot across the keeper to send us home happy. All things considered we played well and the difference in team spirit compared with last years warm up games is marked. No hoofing the ball forward, players encouraging each other, one touch football and width. Looks good against second division opposition but will be able to do it against United Liverpool and the Goons in the coming months. In fact it was so good even Freund looked a different player, nothing spectacular but knitting defense and midfield like I didn't think he could. 
Tottenham till I die.

Ian the big one     




I lost count of how many times I had written pieces on Spurs games in some dreadful grounds around the country and then we decided to visit Reading.  It was a long time since I saw Gazza turn on a cracking display at Elm Park, where he scored his first goal and showed off his "in my pocket" routine in a memorable performance.

The new Madjeski stadium is majestic.  It sits on top of a small hill and has a shiny ground to set it off nicely.  Not only that, but there are some food outlets around the ground, with McDonald's and KFC a short walk down the hill.  The only problem with the ground is parking, but more of that later.

In line with all the Spurs pre-season friendlies I have been to so far, there was a fifteen minute delay in kicking off.  Perhaps they should advertise an earlier kick-off to get everyone in on time.  Once inside, there was plenty of room in the corridors and lots of leg-room.  The luxury of not having to stand up when someone wanted to leave their row was one that was to be savoured before we return to the Lane for games of crushed knees and the "He's going to the toilet Mexican Wave" !!  The programme at 3 must have been arranged to extract the maximum cash from Spurs fans, but the 10 seats attracted an almost full house for a friendly.

The players were out on the pitch and resplendent in their new blue away shirts, but with navy shorts and socks, they set about dong a job on Reading.  Slick passing and good movement off the ball was a joy to see, with lots of one touch football being played.  Reading got the hump and started to fly in from behind, but Spurs played their football without getting too annoyed, apart from Gus' habitual ruck.  It must be playing in the Uruguay kit that brings the worst out in him !!

Sergei was active up front and linked well with Les, who was unfortunate not to get a goal.  It wasn't for the want of trying.  Poyet was at the heart of all that was good about Tottenham's play and Ziege looked more at home in the left wing back slot - spraying passes around and getting some shots in on goal.  We could use his contribution from the back in terms of goals and assists.  With Ledley and Bunjy looking good in defence, the Spurs goalkeeper was almost added to the country's unemployed statistics.  I couldn't believe it when a bloke came to speak to his mate in front of us at half time and pronounced "that Bunjy's crap in't he ?"  What are these people on ??  He set up the first goal with an astute pass out of defence that split Reading open and then proceeded to put in a performance that meant that the opposition didn't get past him, while he managed to hit the post from one of our corners !!  What do they want ??

Freund did an effective job an even got forward to help out the forwards move the ball around, while Anderton was efficient enough without hitting his peak yet.  Apart form them, Doherty was sound in defence and all in all it was a good team performance.  Poyet took his goal clinically, while Sergei really took the biscuit, with a precise finish in the last minute with the opposition cream crackered.  Crumbs, that makes it six games unbeaten in pre-season.  Still, it could be different when we hob-nob with the Premier league teams, but who knows, we might be jammy dodgers and have our fingers on some nice silverware.

Marco van Hip 


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