Norwich City 2, Reading 1

Elliott Bennett scores Norwich City's second goal. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images Elliott Bennett scores Norwich City's second goal. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Saturday, April 20, 2013
5:08 PM

Two goals in the space of two minutes early in the second half earned Norwich City a precious Premier League victory over Reading and pushed them closer to securing their top-flight future.

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It was the two Bennetts who proved the unlikely goalscoring heroes with substitute Ryan scoring his first for the club after 50 minutes and winger Elliott following up with his first league goal of the season on 52 minutes to put the Canaries in control at a vibrant Carrow Road.

But the home crowd still had to endure a tense final 20 minutes after Garath McCleary reduced the arrears with a powerful 25-yard drive before the Royals fought desperately for a leveller in a match that had five minutes of added time.

It was only the second win in 17 league games for Chris Hughton’s team, who overcame the loss of defender Michael Turner with injury in the opening half to maintain an unbeaten home record in 2013.

Ryan Bennett’s goal came after Reading keeper Alex McCarthy parried Grant Holt’s header from a Robert Snodgrass corner. With the crowd still celebrating, Elliott Bennett struck number two after McCarthy palmed down a Russell Martin cross.

Victory took City into 13th place on 38 points, seven clear of third from bottom Wigan, who have a game in hand. Defeat virtually condemned Reading to a swift return to the Championship.

City boss Chris Hughton made two changes after the 3-1 defeat at Arsenal with Javier Garrido returning at left-back in place of Steven Whittaker and Elliott Bennett recalled in midfield at the expense of Alex Tettey

Bradley Johnson recovered from the dead leg he suffered against the Gunners to keep his place, while winger Anthony Pilkington and forward Wes Hoolahan were named among the substitutes, along with full-back Marc Tierney.

Fit-again goalkeeper John Ruddy, striker Luciano Becchio and defender Whittaker did not feature in the 18.

Reading showed one change after the 0-0 draw against Liverpool with striker Nick Blackman replacing Noel Hunt.

Before kick-off, the City Under-18 players who reached the FA Youth Cup final with their penalty shoot-out success against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night completed a lap of honour, while ex-Canaries Darren Huckerby, Dion Dublin and Darren Eadie joined them on the pitch to help pump up the atmosphere ahead of a key game.

With 90 seconds gone, Elliott Bennett let fly with a fierce rising drive that missed the target but certainly got the crowd going.

Then Garrido’s cross from the left found Snodgrass closing in at the far post but his header skewed wide of the target.

Elliott Bennett was enjoying a busy start and from a Howson pass, he let fly with a powerful right-foot shot that was narrowly wide.

After just five minutes, Reading had a problem when Pogrebnyak went down and needed attention on his lower back.

Reading threatened for the first time when Bassong cut out a cross by McAnuff, then Russell Martin conceded a corner under pressure from McAnuff but headed clear from the same player’s flag-kick.

A cross from Martin almost presented Kamara with a heading chance in the six-yard box, but Morrison was first to the ball, before Snodgrass flashed a shot wide as City kept up their high tempo start.

Snodgrass was to the fore again as he weaved into the Reading area before pulling back a cross for Garrido to fire a first-time effort at McCarthy, the keeper grabbing the ball at the second attempt.

Gunter picked up the first yellow card on 11 minutes for a foul on Holt that left the City skipper hobbling.

There was a real blow for Norwich went Turner went down and needed attention to his left leg, very quickly deciding he could not continue and making way for Ryan Bennett after just 18 minutes.

It was Ryan Bennett’s first appearance since the FA Cup defeat by Luton, and his previous Premier League appearance brought an own goal in the 5-0 defeat at Liverpool.

A free-kick opportunity wide on the right was wasted when Snodgrass curled the ball straight out of play

Reading’s best effort yet came on 27 minutes when McCleary struck a powerful effort just off target, then it took a determined challenge by Bassong to stop Pogrebnyak getting in a shot and, worringly, City’s other regular centre-half was receiving attention for a bang in the face while they played with 10 men.

Johnson, stepping in briefly at centre-half, conceded a corner with a wayward header and Bassong promptly conceded another when Guthrie’s kick was nodded across goal. Holt cleared the next corner but it was a bright spell for Reading and McCleary brought Bunn into action, diving to his right.

Snodgrass had to get back to prevent Kelly getting in a cross at the expense of another Reading corner, which Ryan Bennett cleared while also taking a knock in the face.

Pogrebnyak diverted the ball over from close range as McCleary fired it into the six-yard box with City very much on the back foot as the interval approached.

A promising move was spoiled when Elliott Bennett’s cross was straight into McCarthy’s arms after Howson burst forward to effect.

In first half stoppage time, McCarthy kept Reading on terms with a smart save from a Kamara volley after Snodgrass had teed up the chance.

• Half-time: Norwich City 0, Reading 0

Four minutes into the second half, City were desperately close to taking the lead when Holt’s flick set up Kamara, who brought a fine save out of McCarthy with a searing left-foot drive that led to a corner.

Karacan was booked for fouling Holt but the skipper was soon back on his feet, helping set up the opening goal as his header from Snodgrass’s corner was parried by McCarthy, but defender Ryan Bennett fired the rebound into the roof of the net for his first goal for the club.

Less than two minutes later, the Canaries doubled their lead as the other Bennett, Elliott, scored his first of the season.

McCarthy failed to deal with a cross by Russell Martin under pressure from Holt, palming the ball only as far as Elliott Bennett, who fired in goal number two via the keeper’s foot.

Carrow Road was a cauldron in the wake of those two goals and it might have been 3-0 when Garrido set up Kamara for a shot that was deflected wide, and when Holt flashed a header over the top.

Norwich looked supremely confident now and Snodgrass let fly with a 25-yard drive that McCarthy fumbled out for another corner.

Kamara’s thumping header was parried by the overworked keeper as City continued to hold the whip hand.

Reading rallied briefly and McAnuff’s drive was blocked by Ryan Bennett, before Elliott Bennett had to make a vital defensive header.

Blackman was booked for a foul on Snodgrass as Reading’s frustrations began to surface.

But when it seemed City were well on top, the visitors found a way back into the game on 72 minutes with a fine goal by McCleary. He got the better of Howson midway into the City half and with the defenders giving him too much room, let fly with a 25-yard shot that Bunn got a hand to, but was unable to keep out.

Reading were lifted by the goal and Bunn was grateful to hold on to a curling effort by Karacan.

McCleary was proving a handful and another weaving run set up Blackman for a long-range shot that flew well wide.

With 10 minutes left, Hughton made a second change with Elliott Bennett making way for Tettey.

Another frantic attack with three minutes left ended with Reading forcing a corner and Snodgrass going down on the edge of the penalty area and needing treatment, hobbling off to be replaced by Pilkington.

Guthrie’s kick was eventually hacked away by Tettey, but Reading continued to press and McCleary hooked an overhead kick narrowly over the bar.

Five minutes of stoppage time were signalled to pile on the agony for the home crowd, and Kelly planted a header wide from Gunter’s cross as Reading continued to push for an equaliser.

Holt won a free-kick by the left corner flag, and then City forced a corner to help keep the seconds ticking away before a huge roar greeted the final whistle.

• Norwich City: Bunn; Russell Martin, Turner (Ryan Bennett, 18), Bassong, Garrido; Snodgrass (Pilkington, 89), Howson, Johnson, Elliott Bennett (Tettey, 80); Holt, Kamara. Subs (not used): Camp, Tierney, Hoolahan, Jackson.

• Reading: McCarthy; Gunter, Morrison, Mariappa, Kelly; Guthrie; Blackman, McCleary, Karacan, McAnuff; Pogrebnyak. Subs (not used): Taylor, Pearce, Leigertwood, Cummings, Carrico, Le Fondre, Hunt.

• Referee: Mike Dean (Cheshire)

• Attendance: 26,460

• Goals: City: Ryan Bennett (50), Elliott Bennett (52). Reading: McCleary (72)

• Bookings: City: Snodgrass (61). Reading: Gunter (11), Karacan (50), Blackman (68)

36 comments

  • I think KK will stay. Hoots seems to favour him. I think a pre season will do him good. Not sure how I'd feel if I was Luciano though..... E Bennett attacks directly at the goal which is why things seem to happen more with him in the team. More direct than Hoolahan who despite his history and obvious skill I think has not been as creative this year (2013). Couple more points should do it, but its hard to see Wigan and Villa getting 7 or 6 from the 5 games they have left anyway. OTBC!!

    Report this comment

    Juggmeister

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

  • Absolutely chuffed to bits....but our limitations are there for all to see. This team is not good enough to stay up next season. I expect comings and goings to abound.

    Report this comment

    Lobbo

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • I have said for a while now that we would stay up, but had we not won this then I would have really begun to get concerned. I agree that there will be quite a few players going out of the club, though who I think will depend on who wants them. I only saw the second half yesterday, and thought we played quite well. I thought Kamara had probably his best game for us and started to link up nicely and I thought E Bennett did well. My one criticism is reserved for Howson, who unforgivably allowed his man to run at the defence and score the goal that let them back into it. I like Howson, but people earlier in the week were talking about leadership in the team. That starts by taking responsibility and Howson handed his off when he started jogging back after Mcleary ran past him, thinking others would deal with him. Maybe they should have, but if Howson had busted a gut to get back at him he would at least have put him under more pressure. Anyway, that is my one gripe and moan done with, lets hope this frees them up to play a bit of football now. OTBC and IHWT

    Report this comment

    Preston Canary

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

  • Wise words Lobbo. If we'd played like this all season we'd have an extra 5-6 points now + be safe already. We really need to up our game + stop this ultra-defensive trash. However, time to be happy. A win @ Stoke would see us safe. Charlie Nicholas says "Stoke aren't loaded with quality". No $%^&Sherlock. Attack,Attack,Attack Hughton....

    Report this comment

    Timbo

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Good positive comments again chaps after a great result! Great job with limited resources this season. Remember we were bookies favourite to be relegated at the start. It's not a quick fix and changing the manager would be ridiculous. IHWT

    Report this comment

    Konrad54

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Fantastic - and essential. 13 points from the last 13 games. 4 from the final 4 would be satisfactory, especially if 3 come against Villa.... I expect at least half the squad to change for next season, Lobbo, without any of Holt, Jackson, Kamara, Hoolahan, Tierney, Camp, Fox, Surman staying.

    Report this comment

    Soglio Star

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • HA HA You've got another season being the laughing stock of the foreign league ,thanks to W Ham winning

    Report this comment

    billythebookie

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Well that has made me feel a lot better. Onwards and upwards OTBC

    Report this comment

    chirpy

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Great comment Sharky totally agree

    Report this comment

    Konrad54

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • theres something about elliott bennett i like, things seem to happen when he's in the team, more so than hoolahan i.e. Not giving the ball away every chance he gets ! Good 3 points yesterday, another 3 and we be ok.

    Report this comment

    marcohendy

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

  • Brew, Stew, Pa, a penny for your thoughts !

    Report this comment

    Lobbo

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • City certainly keep us on edge. Still, I'm just glad to be born into supporting us instead of an insignificant little pub team across the county border. Well done City, 3 points was the target for the day and we can't moan about that. A couple more points to be certain of safety and we can all dream of who to spend our money on for next season.

    Report this comment

    Bootneck R.M.

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Where did all the pant wetters go? We were brilliant today.

    Report this comment

    Steady On

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • I would be tempted to keep three of that list, Dubai. Vaughan hasn't done at all badly at Huddersfield (admittedly when he's not been injured), and I would like to see us hang onto him as a spare striker. He's certainly better than Jackson or Kamara. Smith and Adeymi are excellent young prospects who have come up from our youth squad and we should keep them.

    Report this comment

    Johnny Gavin Lives

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Not forgetting we are not quite there yet. ;-)

    Report this comment

    sharky

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Steady on, they only appear when they can be negative IHWT onwards & upwards

    Report this comment

    Konrad54

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Pretty shocking that both Stoke & Sunderland won and Newcastle drew. This makes City's victory today all the more important. Wigan were not so lucky, but wouldn't it be great if we could beat Villa and send them down ? Sending Villa down would be almost as good as City relegating 1p5swich - which is not going to happen now or for a long, long time as they are heading for liquidation and a fate they deserve ! Isn't it great beinga Norwich City supporter ? Top Ten next season = here we come !! OTBC

    Report this comment

    Dubai Canary

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Soglio star, I don't think you're a million miles away with those transfer predictions. Many many changes are a coming.

    Report this comment

    lordbesty

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • In the post-match interview Nigel Adkins mentioned that 92% of our goals have come from crosses & 58% from set plays. This does point to a failure to create and finish chances on the ground. Whilst his team failed to deal with our aerial threat, Stoke are less likely to, as they are all large and physical, he said, politely. We don't just need better players but also a different and less predictable way of playing.

    Report this comment

    Sprowstonboy

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Which tier of football will Leeds be gracing next season?

    Report this comment

    DocOhNo

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

  • I would think we all realise that this team will be improved next season. What we should not forget is to thank this team for keeping us where we want to be. Thanks lads you ran your g***s out for all of us supporters. OTBC

    Report this comment

    sharky

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • We made really hard work of that....the nerves only too evident. I still think we need to conjure up 3 points from our remaining fixtures to be sure, especially if Wigan win. The other obvious thing? We need strengthening next season We have RvW... But he can only be the start if we are to avoid a similar season to this one

    Report this comment

    Algarve Canary

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • I think you might find Stokes are an even higher percentage.

    Report this comment

    sharky

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Holty-awesome!

    Report this comment

    stayingup

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

  • It's OK Doc, BtB has taken the meds today

    Report this comment

    Swiss Canary

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

  • Nice not to have one of the Prat Pack reffing. Mike Dean generally got it right including alowing advantage and going back to book later. Snodgrass has taken on the Robert Fleck role for getting himself booked for dissent. Refs haven't a clue what he is saying they just assume its out of order. Is Snoddy close to a suspension yet?

    Report this comment

    Pondlife

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

  • Just a thought, if we'd had the rub of the green and some favourable decisions from the officials, perhaps we would in the top half of the league, with exactly the same team. The powers that be might well think, that with a little more training, our players would be good enough to do the business in next years prem. But it would be FOOLS GOLD!! So, in many respects finishing just above the drop zone is the best place to be. This years income has cleared our debts and next years extra prem. dosh can now be reinvested to drive the yellows forward. Good times to be a canary fan. Oh Yes !!!

    Report this comment

    Lobbo

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • We are a hard working team that is all. Big changes next season. How about Gus Poyet if Brighton don't get promoted

    Report this comment

    andys

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • billythebookie, after constantly saying Norwich are going down, are you now saying that Norwich City are a Premier League team.

    Report this comment

    Lobbo

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Thought Holt was brilliant and getting back to his best yesterday. I'd like to see one more season out of him. 2 up front definitely better for him.

    Report this comment

    Madhoppy

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

  • missed a 'be' in there somewhere. Sorry

    Report this comment

    Lobbo

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Sligo, add to those summer movements - Vaughan, Ayala,Barnett, Ward, Smith, Adayami, Martin C. - and we have about 15 on the way out ! I see BIG changes and Hoots building a very strong City side next season. Those three points today will prove to be very valuable in the bigger scheme of things ! OTBC

    Report this comment

    Dubai Canary

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Absolutely Dubai, great to see the Bennett's on the score-sheet and Els getting one after his screamer at Spurs last season.

    Report this comment

    Swiss Canary

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Decent performance and one that I think will be enough. I don't think both Wigan and Villa will make up the difference in their remaining games. E Bennett looks good because he attacks the 18 yard box with purpose and puts the opposition on the back foot. I think KK will still be here next season. Not sure about Hoolahan...as good as he's been over the years I think we need pukka Premier League quality in the midfield.

    Report this comment

    Juggmeister

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

  • Phew!!!! we did it. It wasnt great at times. A bit surprised at the selected team, but we got three points. Nearly there now. OTBC

    Report this comment

    sharky

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

  • Another important step to survival and congratulations to all the players for keeping their nerve. I agree with the comments about Holt - entirely different in this game - he had players around him today and his link up play was excellent. It's a pity that some of the other results weren't more helpful to us. Surely Wigan despite the patronising reporting by the media about their wonderful manager, marvellous chairman and great style of football will now be favourites for the drop after all these years, joining the other media favourites QPR. I think with the victory yesterday City will have the confidence to end the season on a high. Well done.

    Report this comment

    VictorM

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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