REPORT: Reading 1-2 Norwich City – Royals’ struggles continue

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Liam Moore equalised for Reading

Reading slumped to their third defeat in five games at the hands of visitors Norwich, who themselves continued their rich vein of form after early goals in each half from James Maddison and Cameron Jerome proved enough to take the win.

Maddison’s stunning free-kick put the Canaries ahead on 10 minutes before Liam Moore’s header from a set play squared things up.

Norwich forward Jerome then headed in from an early second half corner and Royals were unable to convert their chances to equalise despite Chris Gunter shaving the cross bar from long range.

The defeat increases the pressure on Jaap Stam and his men heading into the international break, with Royals sitting just a point above the relegation zone in 20th place.

In-form Norwich looked confident early on with skipper Ivo Pinto playing in Josh Murphy but pass was just over hit and Vito Mannone smothered the ball.

It did not take long for the visitors to move in front, as Maddison was brought down outside the box and he stepped up himself to curl the resulting free kick over the Reading wall and into the top corner, giving Mannone no chance.

Royals immediately searched for an equaliser with Sone Aluko finding space but then slashing his left-footed half-volley well off-target. However, Aluko then earned his third assist is as many games, as his free kick from a foul on Garath McCleary found a charging Moore.

The Royals centre-back headed past Angus Gunn in the Norwich goal and into the net to secure the equaliser.

Jerome almost restored Canaries’ lead as the ball over the top found him in space but his strike across goal hit the woodwork.

At the other end, two Aluko crosses put the Norwich’s zonal marking to the test with Kelly and McCleary coming close before McCleary’s looping effort shirked narrowly wide.

As half time approached, Murphy received the ball in the middle and fired a low shot but it was straight at Mannone who held on to it well. Important blocks from Gunter and Moore denied Murphy and Madison’s attempts to ensure the score line level heading into the break.

Tyler Blackett used his pace to get the better of the Canaries defence to play in Dutchman Roy Beerens however he was surrounded by Norwich players before getting a shot off.

Mirroring the first half, Norwich scored early, this time from a corner from the left which was swung in deep and Jerome rose above Blackett to head powerfully into the net and put the visitors back in front.

Royals looked for a reply through McCleary but his run down the right ended with a shot lacking in quality, nestling into the side netting. Substitute Jon Dadi Bodvarsson had an effort blocked and the rebound fell to right back Gunter, who smashed an effort onto the crossbar, just inches away from making it 2-2.

Stam opted for some attacking changes with 15 minutes to go, bringing on Mo Barrow on his return from injury and also offering a rare appearance to Royals youngster Omar Richards as the home side looked desperately to earn a much-needed point late on.

Moore headed wide from a Beerens delivery under pressure from black shirts, before the visitors were reduced to ten men in injury time after Marley Watkins felled Chris Gunter.

The Canaries held on to take all three points back to East Anglia and leave Royals on only nine points from their first ten games.

READING: Mannone; Gunter, McShane (c), Moore, Blackett (Richards 75); van den Berg, Bacuna, Kelly; Aluko (Bodvarsson 68), McCleary (Barrow 75), Beerens.
Subs not used: Jaakkola, Ilori, Edwards, Clement.
Goal: Moore (13)
Yellow cards: Bacuna (6), Moore (60), Beerens (63), van den Berg (67)

NORWICH: Gunn; Pinto (c), Zimmermann, Klose, Husband; Tettey, Trybull; Hoolahan (Wildschut 84), Maddison (Reed 77), Murphy (Watkins 59); Jerome.
Subs not used: McGovern, Hanley, Vrancic, Oliveira.
Goals: Maddison (10), Jerome (53)
Yellow card: Reed (78)
Red card: Watkins (90+3)

Referee: Tim Robinson
Attendance: 14,226 (inc. 1,321 away)

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