Reading FC Match Report: 2014/2015 Season - Championship


READING 2 NORWICH 1

Reading: H Robson-Kanu (pen, 25), S Cox (34)
Norwich: B Johnson (71)

Reading completed a notable double over promotion chasing Norwich with convincing performance worthy of all three points. Recent form suggested this would be a tough game for the Royals. City on a run of three wins and a draw in their previous four games and having scored fifteen goals in the process were playing well and scoring freely. However, under Steve Clarke’s leadership Reading have become much harder to break down, and Federici was rarely called into action. At the other end Reading’s passing was much more ambitious and penetrative, and although City may have had slightly more possession, Reading created better opportunities.

City had the first sight of goal but Hooper was off balance and going away from goal resulting in his shot staying wide of the target. Moments later Murray’s controlled volley from a corner flew over the bar. Reading worked hard to close City down forcing errors and winning possession in midfield on several occasions. McCleary was clearly carrying an injury and not at his best. He seemed reluctant to make forward runs or take players on. Murray tested Ruddy with a shot which the City ‘keeper did well to block and Cox followed up and blasted at Ruddy from very close range and lashed the rebound over the bar. His embarrassment was covered by the offside flag. Midway through the half the tempo of Reading’s play had increased and the City back four were looking decidedly shaky. From a corner Hector was impeded and the referee awarded a penalty.

Robson-Kanu kept his head and maintained his concentration in spite of referee Linington allowing almost the entire City team to discuss his decision at length and stroked the penalty into the middle of the goal. At the other end a weak defensive header from Hector presented City with an opening which was poked wide at the near post. Obita and Gunter were getting forward and crosses were coming in from both wings. It was a deep right wing cross from Murray which provided Cox with the opening to increase Reading’s lead. Cox’s first touch was good and he found the net. Murray could have added a third but having made room for a strike he was reluctant to use his left foot and the opportunity was lost.

Reading started the second half on the front foot but it was fairly scrappy for the opening ten minutes. Having let a two goal lead slip earlier in the week against Brighton it was understandable that the Royals back four were perfectly happy to hit long balls rather than attempt flowing football from their own half. Robson-Kanu wriggled his way through the City midfield and sent Murray free on the right but his cross was over hit this time. Cox was similarly in accurate with his cross when a fine through ball from Norwood released him down the right. With City forced to press forward it was now an open and lively game. Obita produced a great cross from the other wing but disappointingly no-one was prepared to attack the ball.

City got back into contention through some truly appalling refereeing supported by incompetence from his assistant and the fourth official. Reading had prepared Guthrie on the touchline to replace Cox when McCleary went down injured. While McCleary was receiving treatment on the pitch, Mackie was stripped off ready to replace him. Inexplicably neither substitutions were allowed by referee Linington. It seemed remarkable that none of the three officials involved at that point were sufficiently in control of the game to prevent City from resuming play with a throw-in. So with ten men on the field of play, and the Reading team waiting for the substitutions, City promptly broke forward and Johnson scored with a powerful strike from the edge of the box.

Reading remained composed for the remaining twenty minutes. They defended with determination and composure always looking to break out the kill the game with a third goal or keep the ball in the corners. In the end justice was done and Reading chalked up a first win for Steve Clarke and the first win at home since 4th November.

Reading fans went home happy for the first time in a while. They now have a team which looks hard to beat and is creating chances. Williams and Norwood were outstanding today, Murray and Cox worked well together and Pearce won everything in the air. Suddenly the whole team exudes confidence and seem to be enjoying their football. The leadership which has been lacking for most of the season is clear for all to see, and it has arrived in the form of Steve Clarke. Happy New Year!
John Wells

This Championship game took place 936 days ago in the 2014/2015 season.