Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship
NORWICH 4 READING 1
Reading: J Laurent (12)
Norwich: K Dowell (30), K Dowell (64), X Quintilla (78), T Pukki (85)
With nothing to play for in this end of season fixture against promoted Norwich City, Reading started brightly and took an early lead but then gifted City an equaliser before half time. More sloppy play in the second half allowed Norwich take control of the game. Slack marking, half-hearted challenges and careless errors at the back resulted in three more goals for City. But for several good saves from Raphael it could have been a lot worse. Understandable that the Royal's play lacked intensity, but the lack of professional pride was unacceptable. The exasperation expressed by Laurent in the second half summed up what was a very disappointing performance all round from Readinge pairing of Gibson and Holmes in the centre of defence highlighted how crucial the experience and leadership of Morrison and Moore is to the team. Both are promising young players but they never looked comfortable against a prolific Norwich attack.
The warning came after seven minutes when Gibson dithered and lost possession in an area which could have led to an early goal for City. Referee Langford was clearly influenced by the animated and co-ordinated protests every time one of their players went down and Richards had his name taken early in the match. Langford had denied Reading three clear cut penalties earlier in the season and he was equally weak again today without necessarily favouring either side.
A delightful free-kick on the right was headed past Krul at the far post from an acute angle by Laurent to give Reading the lead after twelve minutes. Richards survived a strong appeal for penalty following a late challenge and Holmes cleared off the line as Reading were caught out with sloppy play in their defensive third. City received their first gift of the afternoon in the form of an under hit back pass from Holmes which Pukki latched onto and, although Raphael denied him, Dowell followed up to finish. It was a messy goal. Reading were still showing flashes of brilliance. Ejaria and Swift smuggled the ball through a crowd of City defenders with brilliant close control and passing but the end product just wasn’t there.
Decision-making was poor by Yiadom and Olise in particular and promising situations consequently came to nothing. Richards was constantly available and free bombing forward down the left, but often ignored. Reading should have regained the lead on the stroke of half time when Olise was in on goal and lashed the ball wide from close range with only the Krul to beat. It was an attempt unworthy of a player with so much ability. Joao was as always these days was virtually invisible. Easily dispossessed and showing little signs of appetite to work off the ball he has become a peripheral figure these days.
The second half started with a whirlwind of City attacking play. Buendia dragged a shot wide and then Raphael had to be on his toes to make three good saves in the space of a minute. Reading defensively were too deep and slow to close down. City were allowed to pass their way through the Reading back line with ease. Cantwell was allowed time on the ball to lift a ball into the box and as Ejaria ambled back to deal with Dowells’ run the City forward beat Raphael from the tightest of angles. Smart finish but woeful defending. Have fallen behind Reading simply lost interest. A careless pass put Cantwell in possession and Semedo in trying to retrieve the situation brought him down and picked up a yellow card. Quintilla beat Raphael from the resulting free kick with a fine strike.
A second dreadful under hit back pass from Tom Holmes presented the irritating Pukki with a chance to go round Raphael and walk the ball into an empty net for City’s fourth goal and claim the Championship title for the Canaries. The end of the season cannot come quick enough for Reading.
This Championship game took place 49 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.