Tottenham Hotspur 2 Reading 2: Hunt's 'Wimbledon mentality' leaves Spurs regretting errors

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The Independent Online

For all the talk of Dimitar Berbatov's future in the January transfer window, it was Stephen Hunt who put himself in the spotlight at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

Hunt's contribution was overshadowed by another miserable afternoon for Paul Robinson, yet the Reading midfielder gave a performance to explain why he has been the subject of a bid from Sunderland and interest elsewhere.

"He's a bit like the mentality of the Wimbledon team of not so long back," the Reading manager, Steve Coppell, said. "He's always got something to prove. He was a free transfer from Brentford and that gives him a real motivation to enjoy every game he's playing at this level and also to try to improve himself.

"He works ever so hard in training and this is the culmination. He should be an inspiration to all the pros in the lower divisions."

Coppell stuck to his policy of using fringe players in the FA Cup but Hunt was one of three regular starters and he earned a replay. The Republic of Ireland midfielder is claiming the first goal, although there was no danger when Robinson caught his free-kick and went backwards with momentum. Analysts in Spurs' backroom staff could not determine whether the ball crossed the line.

Berbatov added his 12th and 13th goals of the season either side of half-time. The first crashed in off the crossbar and post, the second was a penalty after Robbie Keane was brought down.

Berbatov should have had a hat-trick but the ball got stuck under his feet on the goalline, one of a host of chances Spurs spurned.

"It's not a fair result because we've done enough to win the game," Spurs manager, Juande Ramos, said. "What's cost us the game are mistakes but on balance we played well."

Ramos took off Keane for Adel Taarabt, which appeared to be the turning point. Reading seized their chance and when Robinson could only parry Leroy Lita's drive, Hunt pounced for the equaliser.

"He's played some terrific games this year," Coppell added. "He and Dave Kitson have probably been my best two players so far. He has a great mentality and he has allied that with real maturity and performance. He is more intelligent with his play yet he keeps his 100 per cent commitment."

Spurs had Tom Huddlestone sent off late on for a headbutt on Bobby Convey, adding to Ramos' selection problems as Didier Zokora is due to play in the African Nations Cup. Spurs are still talking with the Ivory Coast to see if they can delay his departure.

Goals: Hunt (25) 0-1; Berbatov (28) 1-1; Berbatov pen (50) 2-1; Hunt (78) 2-2.

Tottenham (4-4-2): Robinson; Chimbonda, King, Dawson, Lee; Lennon, Zokora, Jenas, Malbranque (Huddlestone, 79), Keane (Taarabt 63), Berbatov. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Defoe, Gunter.

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Rosenior, Bikey, De la Cruz, Duberry (Pearce, 90); Hunt, Ciss, Fae, Convey; Long, Lita. Substitutes not used: Hahnemann (gk), Harper, Cox, Robson-Kanu.

Referee: M Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

Booked: Tottenham Zokora, Jenas; Reading Duberry, Convey.

Sent-off: Tottenham Huddlestone (83).

Man of the match: Hunt.

Attendance: 35,243.

Call from Capello?

Paul Robinson (Tottenham)

A miserable afternoon in a miserable season with the Spurs goalkeeper blamed for both Reading's goals which may see him overlooked.

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