Reading fail to take another opportunity for first maiden victory
Reading 0-0 Norwich
READING remain in the bottom three of the Barclays Premier League after being held to a goalless draw at the Madejski Stadium by Norwich.
The Canaries travelled to Berkshire in good form, having picked up seven points in their last three league outings, but both teams were guilty of poor finishing and wasteful possession in a match that lacked any moment of quality.
The game started slowly and, other than a few profligate efforts sprinkled throughout the match, it never had the tempo required to get the home fans fully behind their side's quest for a maiden league victory.
Norwich midfielder Robert Snodgrass had an early run at the Reading defence following a ball-winning tackle by Alexander Tettey, but his shot was deflected into the arms of Adam Federici.
The Australia international was featuring in his first league game since Reading's 4-2 defeat at Chelsea on August 22, but remained untested in the opening exchanges.
The hosts started to get on top after 10 minutes and had a number of set-piece opportunities that ultimately led to nothing.
The first chance of note came after a quarter of an hour when Royals' winger Garath McCleary fired in a long-range effort that was parried away by John Ruddy in the Norwich goal.
Norwich, who have only scored eight goals in the league so far this season, were struggling to provide decent service to lone striker Grant Holt.
Bradley Johnson, last weekend's match winner against Stoke, ballooned an effort high over Federici's crossbar midway through the first half as the visitors started to come back into the contest.
Snodgrass then missed the best chance of the game as he headed Wes Hoolahan's cross wide.
But it was Reading who almost took the lead after half an hour as Sebastien Bassong dallied on the ball and was robbed by Jason Roberts on the touchline.
The experienced striker flashed the ball across goal and Michael Turner managed to turn it behind for a corner.
Neither side could find enough quality to come close to breaking the deadlock before the interval, with a header over from Reading defender Kaspars Gorkss and a deflected Steven Whittaker effort for Norwich the only notable efforts on goal.
The same lacklustre pattern followed at the start of the second half with Hoolahan guilty of mistiming an effort from the edge of the Reading penalty area.
Reading boss Brian McDermott tried to inject fresh impetus into his side with an hour gone, introducing Jimmy Kebe and Pavel Pogrebnyak from the bench, with McCleary and Noel Hunt making way.
Norwich were starting to use the ball better in possession but could not create enough in and around the final third.
Hoolahan's cross was too high for skipper Holt and Reading almost took the lead as they broke up the other end and saw Sean Morrison head Nicky Shorey's free-kick just wide of Ruddy's right-hand post.
With their backs up, the home side enjoyed a spell of meaningful possession and again came close as captain Jobi McAnuff arrowed a shot inches over the crossbar before Kebe's cross bounced on top of the woodwork moments later.
With 20 minutes remaining Holt was presented with the best chance of the game but he mistimed his jump as he looked to head Javier Garrido's cross past Federici and the ball looped out of play.
Chris Gunter then mirrored Bassong's first-half error as he lost the ball to Holt and the Wales full-back was lucky the Canaries could not make him pay.
Norwich defender Turner was the first man to be booked by referee Chris Hoy with just over 10 minutes remaining as he cynically slid in on Roberts after the forward had skipped past him with the ball.
It was to prove to be Roberts' last involvement as McDermott threw on Adam Le Fondre in search of a goal that would likely seal the three points.
With the game opening up in the closing stages, both teams found themselves with chances as Snodgrass failed to make enough contact to a header when well-placed in the Reading box.
Anthony Pilkington was the next player guilty of poor finishing as he latched on to Holt's clever flick before firing high and wide from 25 yards, and Holt then forced a simple save out of Federici with a tame header.
The last 10 minutes were similar to the rest of the game, with both sets of players working hard but ultimately coming up short in the search for a winning goal.