Date: 20th April 2013 at 7:48pm
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Reading’s Premier League status is nearing to an end, as a disastrous start to the second half cost the travel sick Royals against Norwich, leaving East Anglia with nothing.

Royals boss Nigel Adkins opted to make just one change from the side that fought out a draw with Liverpool last week, as Nick Blackman was preferred in the second striker role to Noel Hunt. The home side started very brightly at Carrow Road, with Elliot Bennett having an early long-range effort, which went harmlessly over the bar of Alex McCarthy in the Reading goal.

Bennett again was at the forefront of Norwich`s next attack, but came considerably closer this time round, with his 20-yard effort dipping just wide of goal. It was the hosts doing all the pressing in the opening exchanges and made last week`s man of the match, Alex McCarthy, work early into the game, as Snodgrass crossed for Javier Garrido to volley his effort into the grateful gloves of the keeper.

Despite this early barrage, Reading were easing themselves into the encounter and were improving vastly as the half progressed, stringing together some neat passing moves, which would have pleased manager Nigel Adkins. The lively Garath McCleary had Reading`s first effort of content in the game, driving inside Russell Martin and fizzing a powerful effort just over the Norwich goal.

Reading`s good spell of possession continued and almost got their just rewards, as Pavel Pogrebnyak`s neat turn almost took him away from Ryan Bennett, but the defender recovered to thwart the Russian. Minutes later, a corner wasn`t cleared well enough by the Canaries and McCleary`s low cross was put over by Pogrebnyak, with pressure from Bassong enough to force the mistake from the forward.

Just before the half time break, Norwich did apply some late pressure, as a long ball forward was flicked on well by Holt and Kamara organised his feet to fire a snapshot at goal, which McCarthy palmed away comfortably. Adkins would have probably have been the happier manager at the break, witnessing his side playing some good football away from home, which is a rarity!

The second period started in a similar vein to the first, as Norwich were on the front foot. Kamara forced a save from McCarthy after connecting well with a volley and from the resulting corner, Chris Hughton`s side went infront. Snodgrass` corner was attacked well by a Norwich man, forcing a decent stop from McCarthy, but from the rebound, Ryan Bennett made no mistake by slamming home from five yards.

It was soon to go from bad to worse for the Royals faithful, as the home side doubled their lead just over a minute later. Alex McCarthy couldn`t gather Martin`s cross from the right and the ball fell kindly to the feet of Elliot Bennett, who swivelled and his effort took a lucky deflection to deceive McCarthy and defender Adrian Mariappa, who could only helplessly watch the ball drop into the net.

The ascendency was firmly in the favour of the Canaries and they were pushing for more goals in this game, with the dangerous Robert Snodgrass having his drive at goal saved by McCarthy, after the Royals struggled to clear a Norwich corner. However, despite this pressure from the home side, Reading had an entry back into the game on 72 minutes, reducing the deficit to one goal.

Garath McCleary was looking like Reading`s best outlet to getting a goal in this fixture and it duly came through the winger, as he drove from the half way line to fire a superb effort past the gloves of Mark Bunn from 20 yards, who probably could have done better with his left-footed effort. Could Reading pull off another one of their miraculous comebacks at Carrow Road when all hope appeared to be lost?

The goal galvanised Nigel Adkins` side and midfielder Jem Karacan attempted to level the scores with a curling effort from the edge of the box, but did to possess enough power to trouble Mark Bunn in the Norwich goal. McCleary came within inches of levelling the score near the 90 minute mark, with an extraordinary overhead kick in the area, but whistled just wide of the post. Agonizingly wide.

Vital Reading verdict: Once again frustrating, but as we have said with all the games so far under Adkins, enough to look forward to next season. Some of the football in that first half was brilliant to see and shows once again it was the right decision to sack Brian. Our eventual fate could be sealed Monday night if Villa beat United, if not, possibly against QPR next Sunday.

Norwich – 4-4-2: Bunn, Martin, bassong, Turner, Garrido, E Bennett, Howson, Johnson, Snodgrass, Kamara, Holt

Subs: Camp, Tierney, R Bennett, Tettey , Jackson, Pilkington, Hoolahan

Reading – 4-2-3-1: McCarthy, Gunter, Kelly, Mariappa, Morrison, Karacan, Guthrie, McCleary, McAnuff, Blackman, Pogrebnyak

Subs:Taylor, Cummings, Pearce, Carrico, Leigertwood, Hunt, Le Fondre