Cooper double gives Royals victory
Saturday 29th November 2014
Reading secured a superb 2-1 victory at Norwich on Saturday afternoon, thanks to two first-half goals from young centre-half Jake Cooper.
Royals boss Nigel Adkins made two changes from the Cardiff loss last week, with one being enforced, as Jake Cooper came in for the suspended Alex Pearce, while Garath McCleary made his first start of the season as the expense of Simon Cox. It was a scrappy opening to the fixture, but the opening goal came on the ten minute mark for the home side, as more poor defending from the Royals was costly.
Nathan Redmond was the danger man coming into this and we obviously didn`t do our homework, as he was given the freedom of the right wing to cross for Jerome to connect with a volley, with Gary Hooper deflecting it in. The linesman originally rose the flag for offside, but after consultation with the referee, opted to award the goal - it was impossible to tell whether he made the right call.
Reading`s response to going behind this season has been poor overall, but their response to this setback was near enough immediate. Oliver Norwood`s corner was attacked at the back post by Jake Cooper, who was too strong for his marker at the back post. Murray very nearly got on the end of Norwood`s dropping cross, but Olsson did well to get there first - the goal seemed to relight Reading.
Olsson nearly proved his worth at the other end too, executing a good volley from twenty yards after we failed to clear our lines in the area, but it safely drifted over the bar. Lafferty went even closer minutes later, firing a shot from range against the crossbar, although it seemed Adam Federici got a touch on it. Norwich were starting to dominate the ball, as Reading were struggling to get out of their own half.
Robson-Kanu had a good looking break on, as the half drew to a close, but after cutting inside from the left, wastefully had his shot blocked - when will HRK find some good form? Cameron Jerome had a great chance in injury time, as he was slipped through by Hooper, but Federici stood his ground well and denied the forward. Just as we thought that would be it, there was one last twist of the first half.
Hal Robson-Kanu won a corner on the right-hand side and Obita took the set piece perfectly, with Ruddy attempting to punch and miss, allowing Jake Cooper to head into an empty net at the back post. His second goal on his second league start for the Royals, the 6`4 defender was having a game to remember. Maybe we finally started working on defending and attacking set pieces at training!
The second half started very slowly, with Reading setting their stall out to slow the game down and see out the victory - we have been unbeaten under Adkins when we have taken the lead in the game if you wanted a good omen! Gary Hooper had a decent chance to draw Norwich level, as we failed to deal with a cross from the left, but didn`t connect properly from five yards, with the ball bouncing down.
Reading were allowing the home side plenty of the ball, but were struggling to create the openings to hurt our defence. Michael Turner nearly got on the end of Howson`s cross at the back post, but put his header wide - a warning side to Adkins` men that they cannot switch off. Ruddy nearly had another embarrassing moment, as he fumbled Norwood`s long-range effort behind him, but managed to recover.
Any dangerous play from the hosts was coming from the wings, but all crosses were being comfortably dealt with by the duo of Hector and Cooper. The defensive display from us was very good, as Norwich were clearly out of ideas. There was one last chance for the home side though in injury time, as Redmond`s cross was pulled back into the path of Murphy, but his effort was over the bar.
A great victory in the end for Reading, who defended superbly in the second half to see out the game, quite comfortably though it must be said - Norwich looked derived of ideas. Hopefully this will fend off the Adkins doubters for a while longer and most importantly, give the team the confidence to get more results ahead of a busy Christmas period. Could this result kick start our season?
Norwich - 4-4-2: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Turner, Olsson; Redmond, Tettey, Howson, Lafferty; Hooper, Jerome.
Subs: Rudd, Cuellar, Hooiveld, Garrido, O`Neil, Murphy, Grabban.
Reading - 4-3-3: Federici; Kelly, Hector, Cooper, Gunter; Norwood, Williams, Obita; Robson-Kanu, McCleary, Murray.
Subs: Andersen, Ferdinand, Cummings, Tshibola, Taylor, Blackman, Cox.