TEN-MAN City were beaten 3-1 by Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Boxing Day to suffer their eighth defeat in their last ten Sky Bet Championship matches.
City kept their hosts under control in the opening half hour, and also went closest to opening the scoring through Alex Tettey and Steven Naismith.
Graham Dorrans' exit with injury seemed to take them out of their rhythm, however, and Reading went ahead from a basic free-kick routine as Yann Kermorgant got ahead of John Ruddy to flick home.
The French striker should have scored with a free header early in the second half, and City punished him when a spell of pressure culminated in Nelson Oliveira slamming into the roof of the net.
Hope turned to despair just eight minutes later, however - City failed to defend a set-piece and Jonny Howson was dismissed for handling the ball on the line, just as Martin Olsson had been at Queens Park Rangers.
Kermorgant made a mess of the penalty but Garath McCleary nodded in after it had bounced back off the bar.
With only ten men to play with, Neil brought on Cameron Jerome and Wes Hoolahan but Reading took control with the comfort of their advantage in both man power and on the scoreboard.
Substitute Callum Harriott made sure of their victory in stoppage time but powering in a shot off the post, heaping more misery on the visitors.
HOW THEY LINED UP
Neil made only two changes from the defeat against Huddersfield Town but there was a shift in position for a few members of his team.
Martin Olsson was taken out of the eleven, which meant that Robbie Brady dropped to left-back. Jacob Murphy switched to the left flank, with captain Jonny Howson operating off the right.
Alex Tettey made his first start for a month in place of Youssouf Mulumbu, while Steven Naismith played in the hole behind striker Nelson Oliveira.
Howson looked crestfallen as he trudged off the pitch following his red card.
City's flying start to the second half had yielded the equaliser through Oliveira, but what unfolded not long after was a punch in the stomach for Alex Neil's troops.
Not only did the skipper's dismissal lead to the penalty that helped put Reading back in front, but it also stifled the Canaries' options to find a way back into the match.
WHAT IT MEANS
There was no festive respite for the travelling Canaries supporters as they watched their team fall to another away defeat, their fifth on the spin in the division.
On the final whistle at the 3pm kick-off, Neil's men were 12th in the table as their plummet from being top in October continued.
: Yann Kermorgant (37) Garath McCleary (68), Callum Harriott (90) - Canaries
: Nelson Oliveira (60)
: Al-Habsi; Gunter, Blackett, McShane (c), L. Moore, Van den Berg (Evans 65), Kelly (Swift 77), Williams, Beerens (Harriott 87), McCleary, Kermorgant. Subs not used: S. Moore (GK), Cooper, Samuel, Watson
: Ruddy; Pinto, Bennett, Bassong, Brady; Tettey, Dorrans (Olsson 25); Howson (c), Naismith (Hoolahan 70), Ja. Murphy; Oliveira (Jerome 70). Subs not used
: McGovern (GK), Martin, Klose, Pritchard.
: Andy Davies
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