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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
03:47 9th July 2012

Reading 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur

Reading 1 (Robson-Kanu 90)
Spurs 3 (Defoe 18, 74, Bale 71)  

The Royals fell to a 3-1 defeat to a classy Spurs side on Sunday afternoon, as a brace from Jermain Defoe and a Gareth Bale effort granted the visitors all three points.   

Defoe opened the scoring by converting cooly after a neat move involving Aaron Lennon and a certain Gylfi Sigurdsson, and Brian McDermott's men had to rally under plenty of pressure in the first half as last year's top four finishers got into their stride.  

Andre Villas-Boas' side took the game away from their hosts with two goals inside a three-minute flurry 20 minutes before the end; Bale bundled home from 12 yards, before Defoe rifled home a brilliant individual effort.  

As has been customary under the current manager, Reading refused to let their heads drop - and stole a consolation in stoppage time, with Robson-Kanu volleying home Le Fondre's cross before Alfie was denied a late penalty shout in the dying embers.  

It was the home side's first defeat at Madejski Stadium since January, and they will look to pick themselves up swiftly for the trip to West Brom next weekend.   

Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Harte, Gorkss, Pearce, Karacan (Le Fondre HT), Leigertwood, Guthrie (Robson-Kanu 83), McCleary, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak (Hunt 83)  
Subs not used: S Taylor, 
CummingsShorey, Mariappa.

Spurs: Friedel, Naughton, Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Dembele, Sandro, Bale (Dempsey 78), Lennon (Townsend 87), Sigurdsson (Huddlestone 72), Defoe  
Subs not used: Lloris, Dawson, Caulker, Adebayor.  

Booked: Defoe  

Referee: Mr H Webb
Attendance: 24,160 (2,159 away)

After a poignant moment of reflection and respect form both sides in memory of the Hillsborough before kick-off, the Royals' first Premier League fixture in three and half weeks kicked off to a huge roar at Madejski Stadium.  

The first goalmouth action came in the fifth minute - as Alex McCarthy made a wonderful double save, first keeping out Sigurdsson's header before tipping Vertonghen's follow-up shot around the post.  

Moments later a speculative ball over the top found Bale, who got to the ball before Reading's young stopper - but could only poke wide of goal.   

The Royals attempted to bounce back instantly, as a dangerous free-kick whipped in from the right hand side caused a bundle in the box - and huge appeals for handball against Kyle Walker fell on deaf ears.  

Replays appeared to show that the ball did indeed strike the England international's arm, but referee Howard Webb believed there to have been a push on the full back. so the decision went Tottenham's way.  

However Andre Villas-Boas' men were always looking a threat going forward, and they would take the lead after 18 minutes through a combination of two more England internationals.  

A well-timed ball from Sigurdsson found Aaron Lennon on the right wing, whose cut-back found Jermain Defoe who slid home a trademark cool finish low to McCarthy's right.   

It seemed only to heighten the visiting side's confidence - as they continued to press, with Sandro stinging the palms of Reading's number 21 from distance shortly afterwards.   

A flicker of class from Garath McCleary to win a free-kick on the right wing was brief respite, before the North Londoners broke again down the middle - with some brilliance from Defoe calving out an opportunity on the edge of the box, which he flashed wide.   

The 31st minute brought a heart pounding moment for McCarthy - as a heavy touch allowed Defoe to steal the ball away ten yards from goal. The Royals, however, did well to close the angles down quickly - and Sigurdsson's resulting effort was superbly kept out by a combination of Gorkss and Pearce.   

The work ethic was certainly evident from Brian McDermott's men, with Gunter and Karacan snapping at the heals on a consistent basis - and a well whipped in cross from the Welsh international led to an opening for the Royals five minutes before the break, though McAnuff could only fire a half chance over the bar.   

Indeed Reading were finishing the half as the stronger side, enjoying more possession - as they enjoyed their best spell of the game thus far in the run up to stoppage time.  

HALF TIME  

Brian McDermott made a change at the break, introducing Adam Le Fondre for Jem Karacan - allowing the Royals number nine to partner Pavel Pogrebnyak up front.   

Indeed the change did have an impact, with 'Alfie' looking confident going forward - though Spurs mustered the first real effort of the second period as Defoe just failed to convert Dembele's mis-hit shot.   

The irrepressible Garath Bale had, in truth, been relatively quiet in the opening half - but sprang to life just before the hour mark, driving at the Reading backline before slamming a 25-yard effort just wide of McCarthy's post.   

Reading were playing some neat stuff of their own, growing in belief in the final third - particularly through the trio of Guthrie, McCleary and Le Fondre.   

That's not to say that the Lilywhites' threat was waning - as Bale again surged forward down the left, before squaring again for Defoe, who this time blazed over.   

Not content there, the Welshman would take things into his own hands - doubling his side's lead by latching onto a Moussa Dembele cut back and sweeping home a sliced effort fom 12 yards out.  

Three minutes later, it was three - an individual effort this time from Defoe, who scuttled forward, edged past Alex Pearce and into the box before finishing brilliantly into the top corner with his left foot.  

Hal Robson-Kanu and Noel Hunt entered the fray in the closing stages, as McDermott refused to give up the fight - and that battling mentality almost paved the way to a consolation strike as William Gallas cleared Le Fondre's effort off the line.  

At the other end Defoe missed the chance to pick up the matchball as he blazed over from close range, but the men in hoops kept coming back - and eventually got their goal through Robson-Kanu.  

An calmly floated chipped cross from Le Fondre was well timed to meet the run of Robson-Kanu, who still had plenty of work to do as he leapt high to volley in to the net from a tight angle.  

There was even still time for a late penalty shout, as Le Fondre tumbled in the box - but the only whistle to blow was that for full time, as Tottenham headed back to London with all three points.
    Data provided by Press Association