Carroll penalty holds Norwich30 December 2022
Norwich were denied a win in their first Sky Bet Championship match since the sacking of Dean Smith as a late penalty from Andy Carroll earned Reading a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road.
The Canaries turned in an improved performance after the midweek exit of their coach following a poor run of form and looked set to take all three points when Adam Idah's sublime finish put them in front after 53 minutes.
But they were unable to see out the game and Reading managed to come away with something for their efforts when substitute Nesta Guinness-Walker was brought down in the box seven minutes from time and Carroll emphatically converted from the spot.
The match got off to a blistering start, with the hosts forcing a corner inside 10 seconds and Reading then breaking through Junior Hoilett, with the Canadian being crudely brought down by Grant Hanley on the edge of the area.
The Norwich captain was rightly booked and goalkeeper Angus Gunn did well to tip Tom Ince's goalbound free-kick over the bar.
With none of the boos and negative chanting that had marred the two previous games at Carrow Road, the Canaries looked in the mood to put on a show for caretaker boss Alan Russell after that early scare, with three strikers on the pitch in the shape of Teemu Pukki, Josh Sargent and Idah.
It needed a superb last-ditch interception from Andy Yiadom to prevent Pukki from picking out Idah with the goal at his mercy after just four minutes and Norwich went even closer as the half approached its halfway point.
When Joe Lumley foiled Pukki, the ball fell nicely for Sargent in the box but, with the goalkeeper out of the equation, the American failed to get enough purchase on his shot, allowing Tom Holmes to make a comfortable goal-line clearance.
City had plenty of the ball for the remainder of the half without creating any more clear-cut chances while, at the other end, the closest Reading came was from another free-kick from a dangerous position which was curled just wide by Hoilett.
Norwich got their noses in front eight minutes after the restart thanks to a superb piece of opportunism from Idah, who was making his first start of a season marred by injury problems.
With the hosts unable to clear their lines after a right-wing cross from Max Aarons had caused panic in their defence, the ball dropped kindly for the Republic of Ireland international some 10 yards out and he needed no second invitation to smash a low first timer into the back of the net.
The home side then needed Gunn to be alert to block Lucas Joao's header from a corner but the Canaries were very much on the front foot as the half progressed, with Lumley producing an excellent stop to foil Sargent as he bore down on goal.
Reading kept plugging away, however, and got back on level terms from the penalty spot on 83 minutes, with Carroll smashing the ball home after Kieran Dowell had clipped the heels of fellow substitute Guinness-Walker just inside the box.
What the managers said...
Norwich's interim head coach Allan Russell: "I am proud of every single one of the players in the dressing room now and they have lost a win by a poor decision. I don't like talking about referees but it clearly wasn't a penalty. Their player sold it well to the referee and I am gutted for the lads in there. They deserved a win - but unfortunately you don't always get what you deserve in this game.
"I thought the players were excellent tonight, every single one of them - too often recently they have been five or six out of 10 but tonight I thought all of them were eight, nine out of 10. I thought the fans were excellent as well. The players and supporters fed off each other and we created enough chances to have won the game, although we did lack a cutting edge at times."
Reading's Paul Ince: "I think a point apiece was a fair result. We were up against a very good side who have just come down from the Premier League and to get a deserved point is great. mWe have now taken four points from two tough games (they beat Swansea in midweek) and that is a very good return. We aren't the team we want to be yet, far from it, but there is something special about this group of players.
"They aren't the best in the league, and we aren't the best team, but the lads keep fighting for each other and I am very proud of them. We have to put a lot of hard work in against two possession-based teams in the space of four days but they have stuck at it and got their reward."
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This news item was provided by the SkySports | News website - the original link is: https://www.skysports.com/football/norwich-city-vs-reading/report/468118