Lucky Royals fight back to claim a point
13th November 2010
The Royals fought back to claim a point in an amazing game at the Madejski Stadium against Norwich but were on the end of a very fortunate refereeing decision that saw the Canaries Grant Holt dismissed just before half time. At the time we were 3-1 down and out of the game but a second half fight back inspired by a great performance from Noel Hunt saw us claim a point, and it really should have been more.
With the same 11 back in business from the side that drew with Cardiff in midweek, we started well and Shane Long should have scored after good work from Simon Church, but his volley was straight at Norwich keeper John Ruddy. However it wasn`t long before our defensive frailties that have blighted us recently came to fruition once more. A ball forward found right back Russell Martin steaming forward with Royals left back Ian Harte nowhere to be seen, before Zurab Kizhanishvili gave him the freedom of the penalty box to fire in off the underside of the bar.
We were further behind when Matt Mills short back pass was easily picked up by Grant Holt and he rounded Adam Federici to tap into an empty net from a tight angle. It was a gift from the Royals centre back, who simply did not look before passing the ball back.
We hit back straight away though when a Brian Howard corner bobbled around in the six yard box before Harte poked home a simply finish. Yet again the left back had been poor defensively, costing us at least one of the goals we had conceded, before popping up at the other end and scoring.
However we didn`t build on the goal and Norwich extended their lead when a Chris Martin free kick went through the wall, and past the dive of Adam Federici.
The games major talking point though took place just before the interval and it was a decision that went in favour of the Royals, unlike Wednesday night. Holt went for a ball with Harte but went to pull out of the tackle just at the last moment, clashing shins with the Royals left back who went down in apparent agony. The referee Michael Oliver was quick to get out the red card to the shock of the Canaries, who were left to fight on with ten men. It was a truly terrible decision and Harte`s reaction clearly did not help, it was a Reading free kick and nothing else and really harsh on Norwich who were much the better team up until this point.
As expected we dominated the possession and before the hour we had got ourselves back into the game, Jem Karacan doing well on the edge of the box and slipping the ball into Noel Hunt who finished really well for his second goal in two games.
Within a minute we had levelled, Long ran into the box and was brought down by the left back Lappin before getting up and converting from the spot himself.
We had half an hour to turn the game around and had numerous chances, with Hunt particularly impressive, but could not make our numerical advantage count to take all three points. Church saw his effort saved, Hunt should have scored with a header from Harte`s cross and in the closing stages Andy Griffin got forward and put a lovely low cross into the box but it fell agonisingly away from Church, Long and finally Hunt, before drifting out for a goal kick.
It was an impressive second half display, and a cracking game, but one we were perhaps fortunate to have had any chance in after a dreadful first half display.