Match Report: 2010/2011 Season

13 November 2010: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Harte (29 mins), Hunt (59 mins), Long (62 mins, pen)
Norwich: Martin (16 mins), Holt (26 mins), Martin (32 mins)
Half Time: 1-3.

Attendance: 15,934

Pos Team P Pts GD
8 Norwich 17 26 +2
9 READING 17 24 +6
10 Nottm F 17 24 +3
Reading: Federici, Mills, Harte, Griffin, Khizanishvili, McAnuff, Howard (Antonio, 53), Karacan, Hunt, Long, Church. Subs not used: Tabb, Pearce, Robson-Kanu, Cummings, McCarthy, Armstrong.
Norwich: Ruddy, Ward, Barnett, Martin, McNamee (Jackson, 68), Crofts, Fox (Gill, 81), Lappin, Smith, Martin (Daley, 83), Holt (sent off 45). Subs not used: Hoolahan, Berthel Askou, Rudd, Johnson.
Reading: Mills.
Norwich: Lappin.
Ref: M Oliver (England) .
Once again Reading fought their way back from a three-one deficit at home, only on this occasion they could not maintain sufficient momentum to snatch a victory. Reading's first half performance was extremely disappointing following such a fine display against Cardiff earlier in the week but they took advantage of having an extra man in the second half to salvage a point.

Following an immaculately observed minute's silence to honour the former Reading players who lost their lives in the First World War, the game started quietly. An excellent exchange of passes instigated by Howard gave Long the first clear chance of the half. It was a far from easy chance to convert but Ling did well to keep his volley down but straight at Ruddy. The Royals looked sluggish especially at the back. City opened the scoring on sixteen minutes as the Reading defence allowed Russell Martin to stride into the box and smash the ball past Federici from a tight angle. There was a lot of pointing and discussion to determine who was to blame but in fact the defence collectively switched off. Mills added further to the dismal defending with an appalling back pass which Holt reached a long time before Federici and the City striker slid the ball into the net from an extremely tight angle. It was a well taken goal but a self inflicted wound for Reading. The Royals did not have the monopoly in poor defending as three minutes later City made a hash of defending a corner and Harte was able to prod the ball over the line. Time for comeback? Not yet! Reading continued the play with a lack of conviction and a rash challenge from Karacan gave City a free-kick in central position outside the box and Chris Martin swept the ball past the wall and a very late dive by Federici. Long came close to pulling a goal back with a good run and powerful shot which Ruddy did well to save.City were winning most of the ball in the air and that is where it seemed be most of the time. Right on the stroke of half time once the referee made a crucial and incorrect decision, this it was in Reading's favour. Harte was caught with a late tackle by Holt and out came the red card sending Reading in at half time with a glimmer of hope in spite of being two goals behind and playing like a Sunday League team.

The second half was predictably dominated by Reading. Brian McDermott decided to stick with same eleven for the second half but his patience soon ran out with Howard, who had continually given the ball away, and was replaced by Antonio in the fifty-third minute. McAnuff moved inside to pull the strings in midfield. Five minutes later Karacan slipped a delightful ball through for Hunt who finished superbly keeping his head and clipping the ball over Ruddy. Two minutes later Long was brought down in the box, and after some pathetic attempts by City to distract him by delaying the kick, Long confidently put away the penalty. With half an hour to go another win looked on the cards for Reading. The siege continued but Reading lacked the quality and composure to finish City off. They peppered the goal but Ruddy and his defence were able to deal with everything hurled at them including Antonio's long throw. City manager Lambert was sent off near the end for protesting about a strong but perfectly fair challenge by Karacan. Antoinio did well against Doncaster but today he was not as effective. He undoubtedly has pace but the quality of his touch is not quite sharp enough and I was left wondering why he was preferred to Robson-Kanu. It was yet another highly entertaining game but Reading will have to find a way of protecting a rather slow back four unless the forwards are going to regularly score three or four goals a game.

November has been a big test for the Royals, and so far they have acquitted themselves well against teams above them in the league, probably deserving more than the two points they have to show for their efforts so far.
John Wells


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Martin combined well with Korey Smith on the right before clipping in the opening goal and Holt struck with an opportunist effort to double the advantage. Royals captain Matt Mills tried to feed the ball back to goalkeeper Adam Federici but Holt intercepted the errant pass, rounded Federici and squeezed in his sixth goal of the season. However, Reading were back in the match three minutes later as Hunt met Brian Howard's corner at the near post, and though David Fox smuggled the ball off the line, it fell to Harte four yards out and he swept it home. Martin was fouled by Howard 25 yards from goal and stepped up to bend the set-piece over the wall into the corner, with Federici's fingertips unable to keep the ball out. Holt's challenge on Harte, who had taken a bad touch, appeared late rather than malicious, but referee Michael Oliver was in no doubt and sent him off. Reading were denied a stunning second when Simon Church collected the ball 25 yards out and hit a fine drive, which was superbly tipped onto a post by John Ruddy. But two goals in three minutes restored parity, first from a tight angle by Hunt following Jem Karacan's pass. Hunt found Long inside the area moments after the re-start and as the forward toed the ball away from the sliding challenge of Simon Lappin he fell and was awarded a penalty. Long hammered in the spot kick and Norwich had to withstand a series of attacks, Hunt heading over and Long denied by the legs of Ruddy. There was just time for Oliver to send Norwich boss Paul Lambert to the stands after he ventured down the touchline to remonstrate with the official.
BBC Sport