Norwich City Under-18s fell just short of a second half comeback in their 3-2 defeat to Reading at the Lotus Training Centre on Saturday afternoon.
The young Canaries made one change to the side that drew 3-3 with West Ham in their last outing, an injured Ken Aboh being replaced by Sean Stewart for the meeting with the Royals.
It was City who found the first chance early on in the game. Joe Duffy did well to keep hold of the ball and spray it out wide to Sol Alidor-Hamilton. The right-back then wasted no time in setting Alex Matos up inside the 18-yard box, but the young forward’s shot was just wide of its target.
Punishing the Canaries for their missed chance, Reading then went up the other end to find the back of the net through Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan as he touched in a City deflection past Jayden St Paul for the opener.
Duffy was the main danger of the first half for City, the midfielder’s deft touches taking him past the Reading defence and in front of goal, his shot just blocked before it could reach its target.
St Paul was called into action again in the 41st minute as Reading were awarded a direct free-kick, the ‘keeper doing well to tip the Royals’ effort over the bar.
But one way or another, Reading would find their second goal before the half time whistle, Benjamin Purcell’s free-kick from a tight angle down the left-side sneaking its way past the City defence and into the bottom corner.
In true Norwich City fashion, the young Canaries came out for the second half with plenty of motivation as they looked to get back on the level terms with the Royals.
The first of City’s second half chances came when Alex Matos’ shot was saved inside the box, deflecting out to Harry Brooke who’s shot was just over the target.
To make things even worse for the Canaries, Purcell then found his brace with another of his free-kicks finding the back of the net from outside the box.
Responding with their never say die attitude, City soon found the goal they needed to keep themselves in the running. Sol Alidor-Hamilton did well to send a dangerous cross in for Matos, the forward making no mistake in his finish.
Leading by example, Matos then found the back of the net for the second time in quick succession with his left-footed finish into the bottom-right corner to put City just one goal behind.
The Canaries then thought they’d found the leveller through Matos on his hat-trick when the striker finished neatly through a crowded Royals box, but the linesman’s flag was raised for offside.
And despite their best efforts for the equaliser, Reading would hold on to the lead and take all three points in this tightly-contested fixture.
Norwich City starting XI: St. Paul, Alidor-Hamilton, Hills (c), Shipley, Okeowo (Khumbeni, 55), Matos, Earley, Brooke, Stewart, Thorn, Duffy
Subs not used: Trueman (GK), Welch, Foyo, Reindorf
Goals: Matos (75, 76)
Bookings: Duffy (23), Thorn (85)
Reading starting XI: Collins (Rowley, 44), Abrefa, Antoine (Salam, 63), Borgnis, Senga, Holzman, Peters, Purcell, Clarke, Ehibhatiomhan (Greaver, 55), Maudner
Subs not used: Murray
Goals: Ehibhatiomhan (13), Purcell (45, 61)
Bookings: Greaver (78), Clarke (85)