The moment we all have been waiting for happened today, and it happened with little fanfare — Alex Morgan made her Tottenham Hotspur Women debut today at home against Reading Women as a second half substitute. The irony is that, after several weeks where Spurs matches were broadcast on American TV screens for her legions of fans to hopefully catch a glimpse of her, this match wasn’t on TV at all and was only streamed on the FA Player.
But despite exerting a huge influence in the game she didn’t have much actual impact and couldn’t rally her team past Reading for Spurs’ first WSL win. Ashleigh Neville’s first half header canceled out a strike by Reading’s Brooke Chaplen, and Spurs battled to a hard-fought 1-1 draw at The Hive.
The only really surprising news was the omission of Kit Graham from the matchday squad for Spurs. No reason was given but one assumes it’s probably injury related. Rianna Dean started in her place at the top of Spurs’ offense.
3’ — Early chance for Reading on a counter attack. Cross comes to the back post for James, but she puts it side netting.
7’ — Spurs get their first sniff at goal as Green puts a ball to Reading’s back post. It’s a bit too high for Percival, who can’t get a head to it.
13’ — Goal to Reading. The visitors split Spurs’ defense and Jess Fishlock fired in a lofted cross to the head of Brooke Chaplen, who headed it past Spencer.
18’ — Reading forced into an early sub as Deanna Cooper comes off for Kristine Leine due to injury.
24’ — GOAL TOTTENHAM! It’s Ashleigh Neville with a header past the Reading keeper! Off of a corner, Rianna Dean headed it towards goal and Neville was at the back post to flick it into the net! 1-1, and Spurs are right back in it!
35’ — Spurs playing with more intensity in and around Reading’s box but haven’t found a way past their defense.
42’ — Shelina Zadorsky took what looked like a pop to the face and was down for an extended period receiving treatment. She’s okay and comes back into the match; meanwhile Spurs put a free kick into the area but Dean can’t get the 50/50 ball into the net.
45+’ End to end stuff here in extra time as Reading has a couple of decent looks at goal. Spurs hoof away a ball flashed across the face of their goal and away, and later have a free header on goal off of a corner but put it over the bar.
HALFTIME! Neville’s equalizer keeps Spurs in this match.
A halftime sub as Lucia Leon comes on for Rosella Ayane.
54’ — No big chances for either side in this second half, but Reading have had the better of it, continuing to push high and split Spurs’ defense with passing. They’ve earned a couple of corners that haven’t really amounted to shots on target.
63’ — Yellow card for Kerrys Harrop after she takes out a midfielder on what could’ve been a Reading break. Free kick to Reading eventually goes off the wall and out for a throw.
64’ — Second sub for Spurs as Alanna Kennedy comes off for Elisha Sulola.
65’ — Third sub for Spurs, as Rianna Dean comes off and IT’S ALEX MORGAN COMING ON FOR HER TOTTENHAM DEBUT!
74’ — Morgan not getting much of the ball and is attracting a lot of attention from Reading’s defense (because duh). She gets her first touch ten minutes after coming on.
80’ — It’s a physical match, this. Reading are really pushing forward, Spurs are trying to play out of the back whenever they can.
85’ — Morgan’s impact hasn’t been great in this match, but her influence is MASSIVE, indicated by how she’s basically been wearing a Reading defender like a shirt since she came on.
86’ — Fourth sub for Spurs — Lucy Quinn on for Angela Addison.
90’ — Great save Spencer who did well to parry away a counterattack shot on target from Reading’s Woodham.
FULL TIME! Alex Morgan made her Tottenham debut, but couldn’t get them their first league win of the season. Final score is 1-1.
- Let’s start with what everyone wants to talk about: Alex Morgan’s debut. I sometimes think American soccer fans expected her to stroll onto the pitch like a giant and crush Reading under her heels while making tea-sipping motions. Football doesn’t work like that. She didn’t even see much of the ball in her 25+ minute spell, but she cast a VERY large shadow as Reading took her presence seriously. Morgan was wearing a Reading defender like a shirt the entire time.
- The other thing to remember about Morgan is that this is literally her first match in over a year. It’s unlikely that she’s going to look like ALEX MORGAN for a while. But who cares, she was out there and that was awesome.
- On balance I think it’s fair to say that Reading probably were the better side. They certainly made Spurs’ defense work hard to keep them out and the combination of their high press and their long passing made things scary on a number of occasions. That said, Spurs’ defense was pretty good.
- Tottenham’s offensive struggles continue — their goal came off of a set piece today, and they still look rather toothless in attack. Hopefully Morgan can help with that.
- This was the first time I’ve seen Elisha Sulola in action for Spurs. She looked like a distinct downgrade to Alanna Kennedy at defensive midfield, but she’s also 19 and just signed a professional contract with Tottenham, so I’m not going to quibble too much.
- This was a match that was there for the taking, but Reading are a good team. A winless streak here sucks, but this was also the end of an absolutely brutal run of matches for Tottenham. Up next is an away match against bottom-of-the-table Bristol City, who are winless and have a -23 goal differential.