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Reading remain in the bottom three of the Barclays Premier League and still without a win after being held to a goalless draw at the Madejski Stadium by Norwich City.
The Canaries travelled to Berkshire in good form, having picked up seven points in their last three league outings, but both teams were unable to find the back of the net.
The game started slowly and, other than a few efforts sprinkled throughout the match, it struggled for the tempo required to get the home fans fully behind their side’s quest for a maiden Premier 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 22 August 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. The first chance of note came after a quarter of an hour when Royals winger Gareth 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 Premier League this season, were struggling to provide decent service to lone striker Grant Holt. Bradley Johnson, last weekend’s match winner against Stoke, shot 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.
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 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 pattern followed at the start of the second half with Hoolahan mistiming an effort from the edge of the Reading penalty area. Reading manager Brian McDermott tried to inject fresh impetus, 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 Holt and Reading almost took the lead as they broke up the other end and Sean Morrison headed Nicky Shorey’s free-kick just wide of Ruddy’s right 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.
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 who missed a chance as he latched on to Holt’s clever flick before firing high and wide from 25 yards before Holt forced a simple save from 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.
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