Reading’s miserable start to the campaign continued in front of the Sky TV cameras, as our old nemesis Cameron Jerome scored the winner for Norwich in a 2-1 victory at the Madejski Stadium.
Here’s the key moments, with a full set of ratings and match thoughts to come a little later this weekend.
Team wise, Jaap Stam made a pair of changes, as Liam Kelly replaced Tiago Ilori and Leandro Bacuna stepped in for Dave Edwards. The Reading boss reverting back to a 4-3-3, with again no place for Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
In front of what seemed one of the smallest Saturday home crowds for many a year, things couldn’t have started much worse for a sloppy looking Reading side. Passes were going astray and silly fouls conceded. It was from a free-kick that Norwich opened the scoring, with James Maddison curling home a superb effort from 25-yards to give his side an early lead.
At that stage you really feared the worst but Reading hit back, scoring their first goal in the opening 45 minutes of a Championship game this season. Liam Moore was the man to get it, nodding home a lovely teasing free-kick from Sone Aluko to bag just his third career goal.
That woke Reading up and they looked to visibly grow in confidence as the half wore on. Garath McCleary nearly giving us the lead, while at the other end Cameron Jerome saw his burst behind the defence lead to a shot that hit the post.
Yet that hope from Reading faded miserably thanks to some woeful defending from another set piece. Jerome won a tug of war with Blackett to find himself in acres of space at the far post, to smash past Mannone.
McCleary and Chris Gunter had opportunities to equalise, while Bodvarsson, Omar Richards and Mo Barrow were all thrown on to make something happen. Yet no saviour came, despite a stoppage time red card for Norwich’s Marley Watkins. Having lost just twice at home all of last season, it’s now two defeats in three by the end of September for Reading.
Similarly just nine points from 10 games, It’s Reading’s worst start at this point at second tier level since 1987/88, when Ian Branfoot’s side picked up eight on their way to relegation. Terry Bullivant’s 1997/98 outfit had 10 on their way to a 24th placed finish, while Brendan Rodgers also picked up 10 in 2009/10 before being sacked by Christmas.
Even more worrying will be the scores of empty seats at the Madejski Stadium. 14,226 (1,321 away) was the official attendance, a drop of nearly 3,000 from the Huddersfield fixture on this weekend last season. TV will have played a large role in the crowd figure tonight but whatever the motivation, fans are starting to vote with their feet.
Stam’s heroics last summer should see him safe over the International break, yet with a brutal run of games to come, his line of credit might run out rather fast.
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Moore, McShane, Blackett (Richards), Van den Berg, Bacuna, Kelly, Beerens, McCleary (Barrow), Aluko (Bodvarsson)