Tottenham Hotspur and Reading fought to a breathless 0-0 draw full of clever attacks and brave (and at times lucky) defending. Both sides are seeking European spots, and it’s still anyone’s guess who will come to regret this game of missed chances more.
Spurs started brightly. After just four minutes, FAWSL player of the month Ashleigh Neville ran onto a beautiful ball into the box from Ria Percival and forced a save out of keeper Grace Moloney. Reading’s back line looked panicked under constant pressure from Williams, Simon, Percival and Neville. Spurs cut through Reading all over the pitch with attack after attack, each more attractive than the last, but lacked some composure in front of goal. Even so, it was only Moloney’s excellent saves and well-timed excursions off her line that kept Reading in this stage of the game.
As the half wore on, Reading found their footing enough to expose some disorder in Spurs’ back line. Each time they progressed the ball, they grew more confident, culminating in a clever volley from Amalie Eikeland that forced an outstanding instinctive save from Tinja-Riikka Korpela. Both sides left the half unlucky not to be on the scoresheet.
Smart play from @ReadingFCWomen ⚡️— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) March 6, 2022
Big save from @tinnikorpela #BarclaysFAWSL @SpursWomen pic.twitter.com/A89HLV2nhI
Reading turned up the pressure in the second half, but so did Spurs. Both teams pressed hard and fouled cynically. At times, it was a frustrating back-and-forth affair with plenty of stoppages. Tottenham’s attacking force of Simon, Williams, Percival, Neville, Summanen, and Clemaron combined well to pin Reading back in and around their box, but too often picked the wrong final pass or shot. Spurs almost found themselves ahead in the 75th minute anyway, when a deflected cross bounced along the goal line until Moloney unwittingly combined with a Reading defender to keep it from actually crossing.
Reading responded to Tottenham’s sustained pressure with dangerous direct attacks of their own. New signing VanHaevermaet caused problems all over the field, and Deanna Rose looked sharp every time she got the ball — Kerys Harrop and Eveliina Summanen worked together to extinguish the threat, but if Rose’s teammates had found her feet more often she could’ve caused real damage.
The game grew desperate in the final moments. Substitutes Cho So-Hyun and Angela Addison introduced some much-needed energy into our front line, and stoppage time saw a series of wayward Tottenham crosses and one shot from Summanen that looked like it might curl into the corner but ultimately rolled wide.
Both teams will likely regret not picking up more points here as they compete for a spot in European competition. In today’s game, Spurs looked to have more options for ball progression through Clemaron, Asmita Ale and Summanen, and more options for chance creation through Neville, Percival, and Williams. If key players can stay fit, it feels like Spurs have the better chance.
However, Tottenham face a tall order with City, Chelsea and Arsenal next. Organization at the back is a concern against such ruthless and clinical sides, but midfielders like Clemaron and Summanen have shown they don’t mind getting their hands dirty on defense, the attacking sextet has looked bright, and Spurs will have more rest than Chelsea and Arsenal who still have games in the FA Cup, and in Arsenal’s case, the Champions League. With a little bit of luck and clinicality, it’s not outlandish to think we might pick up some points.