Reading team: Rowley, Abrefa, Bristow (Talent-Aryeetey 68’), Holzman, Stickland ©, Purcell (Nyarko 74’), Osorio, Scott, Senga (Abdul-Salam 74’), Camara, Ehibhatiomhan
A second-half fightback from Norwich City under-23s condemned Reading under-23s to defeat in another high-scoring game against the Canaries.
Kelvin Abrefa and Ethan Bristow returned to the starting eleven in place of Hamid Abdul-Salam and Tyrell Aschroft; Matt Rowley retained his spot between the sticks as Harvey Collins’ absence continued.
The hosts took an early lead, opening the scoring after six minutes. Norwich forward Abu Kamara headed an effort towards goal, but Matt Rowley parried it away – Tom Dickson-Peters was first to react, slotting home to give the Canaries the advantage.
Reading looked for an equaliser and came close in the 20th minute. Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan got himself on the end of a dangerous looking cross, but his effort was smothered by Norwich goalkeeper Angus Gunn.
Nine minutes later, Ehibhatiomhan did have the ball in the net – another dangerous delivery found its way to the forward, and he looped the ball over Gunn to score his seventh goal of the season.
Having equalised, Reading continued to put Norwich on the back foot, and were rewarded with a second goal. This time it was Claudio Osorio who got on the end of a dangerous ball in, tucking home Rashawn Scott’s cross for his second goal in as many games.
Half-time – Norwich City U23 1-2 Reading U23
Early in the second half, the Royals looked to pick up from where they left off, as Scott came close to his first goal for the club – his effort from Ehibhatiomhan’s cut-back flew narrowly wide of the post.
It was then Norwich’s turn to apply pressure, forcing Rowley in to a succession of saves; the Reading goalkeeper first kept out a long-range effort from Jonathan Rowe, before getting down quickly to brilliantly deny Tony Springett.
But, despite Rowley’s best efforts, Norwich eventually got the equaliser their play probably deserved. After Rowley parried an initial effort from Kamara, the ball found its way to Dickson-Peters, who grabbed his second of the game.
Just six minutes later Norwich regained the lead, as Jaden Warner headed in a Springett free-kick. The hosts got their fourth goal of the afternoon just minutes later, as Springett got his own name on the scoresheet.
As Reading pushed hard for a way back in to the game, they were left vulnerable to quick counter-attacks by the hosts – in the 77th minute, Rowe found space in behind before being brought down in the box by Rowley. Dickson-Peters stepped up to take the penalty, dispatching it calmly for his hat-trick – his sixth goal against Reading this season.
The Canaries continued to look dangerous right up until the final whistle, taking all three points and leaving Reading with an afternoon to forget.
Full-time – Norwich City U23 5-2 Reading U23
Friday’s defeat leaves Reading in 11th place in the Division 2 table, on 14 points. However, each of the three teams below the Royals have played at least one game less, meaning the boys are reliant on fixtures elsewhere to maintain their standing in the table.
The lads now have an opportunity for a bit of a rest, before they welcome Charlton Athletic under-23s to the Select Car Leasing Stadium on Monday 13th December for their next Premier League Cup fixture. The Royals will return to action in the league on the 17th December, when they visit Birmingham City under-23s.
A tale of nine minutes
At half time the game had a remarkably similar look to Monday’s fantastic win against Middlesbrough, with the Royals turning around an early setback to get themselves on top in the game. By the time of the full-time whistle however, this match had gone a very different way.
In the space of just nine second-half minutes, the Royals went from 2-1 up to 4-2 down. Quite how (and why) the Royals collapsed so spectacularly will need to be assessed by the coaching staff in the break before Reading’s next fixture.
So, what positives can we take?
Scoreline aside, it was good to see Claudio Osorio on the scoresheet for the second match running, and equally it was great to see Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan grab his seventh goal of the season. Ethan Bristow continued his injury return with more crucial minutes under his belt.
One other positive (but I am reaching here!), is that the Royals can exact some revenge when they play Norwich for a fourth time this season on January 17 in the Premier League Cup. It’s the perfect game for a neutral, as that is now 18 goals scored in three meetings between the sides this season!