Sport Soccer

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Time is almost up for Reading

Norwich City 2 Reading 1

Jon West

Reading know it is unlikely they will be relegated tomorrow, which will happen if Aston Villa win. That, however, is merely because Manchester United are their opponents. The Royals' demise will be confirmed sooner or later anyway.

Norwich, on the other hand, are all but assured of playing at Old Trafford next season. Two goals in two minutes – from two men with the same surname – turned out to be just enough to record only their second Premier League victory in 17 fixtures and lift them to 13th, seven points ahead of third-bottom Wigan.

The men in question were the Bennett boys, Ryan and Elliott, and who are no relation.

The former, a first-half substitute at centre-back for the injured Michael Turner, had never previously scored for the club; winger Elliott had made only occasional starts this term and had not previously scored in league action this campaign.

Elliott Bennett had at least signalled his intentions with some lively play early on, although the resulting shots did not trouble Alex McCarthy, the Reading goalkeeper.

Pavel Pogrebnyak contrived to blast over the home bar from all of two yards in the 42nd minute. Norwich made him pay for such profligacy with two goals in quick succession early in the second half. Grant Holt, the captain, met Robert Snodgrass's corner with a header that McCarthy could only parry and Ryan Bennett was in the right place to lash home the rebound.

Then, from Norwich's next attack, McCarthy could only divert the other Bennett's shot into another part of the net.

"We played well in the first half," said Nigel Adkins, the Reading manager. "Unfortunately, when we came out for the second half for a 10-minute period, we didn't deal with the physicality of Norwich City."

Norwich manager Chris Hughton was delighted with the precious win. "Three points today has been a big help towards getting to where we want to go," he said.

Norwich will all but secure their status in the top flight if they overcome Stoke at the Britannia Stadium next Saturday.

Irish Independent

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