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Kick off 15:00 (UK)

4-1
01 May 2021 Venue Carrow Road Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - Championship

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Match Previews

Click 'Live Text' for pre-match build-up!

1 May 2021

Despite having led the table early on and been in the top six for the majority of the season, Reading head to Carrow Road this afternoon with their hopes of making the play-off places over.

We talked to Robert Warlow who cover the Royals for Berkshire Live about how Veljko Paunovic will approach today’s game and which players from the opposition to watch out for.

Canaries.co.uk: Reading’s 2-2 draw with Swansea City last time out ended their hopes of making the play-offs this season. How do you think that will change Veljko Paunovic’s approach to the game in terms of selection and tactics?

RW: The Reading manager has said himself that he intends to honour the competition, the club’s fans and the team itself by doing everything possible to win the last two games of the season. He was asked on Sunday whether he may consider giving opportunities to others, perhaps to some younger players, but insisted that he would not be ‘giving something for nothing’, adding that he and his team would look to be competitive.

Canaries.co.uk: How do Reading fans view this season in terms of progress, despite missing out on the play-offs?

RW: Undoubtedly, it has been a season of progression for Reading, after finding themselves in the bottom half or in a relegation battle in recent campaigns. Of course, there is disappointment and frustration that having been in the top six for much of the season, they have fallen away at the end, but after a few seasons where thoughts of promotion have been far from realistic, it has been a much better campaign on the whole for the Royals.

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Canaries.co.uk: From the outside looking in Veljko Paunovic seems to have been a very good appointment. What has he changed from last season that has made Reading competitive again in this division?

RW: He has often spoken about the identity and character of his side, and that is something that is clearly important to him. 'Non-negotiables' is a phrase he has become synonymous with, with the Serbian big on effort and application and not having excuses. His attention to detail, coupled with his drive and determination, have put Reading on the right path, and he has got the best out of players like Lucas Joao, Yakou Meite and Michael Olise to make Royals a force in the second tier.

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Canaries.co.uk: It is just one win from the last nine games that has ended Reading’s hope of promotion this season, what do you put this drop of form down to?

RW: Injuries have taken a toll on Reading like many teams this season, but for Royals, these have coincided with a loss in form at just the wrong time for some players. Early in the season, they were flying and looked to be almost certainties for a top six place, but some disappointing performances and poor results have seen them slip away. Decision making, particularly in the final third, has not been as good as it was early on, and they have paid the price for not killing teams off.

Canaries.co.uk: Reading have a great record of producing players through their academy. What graduates from the club’s academy have impressed you in the first team this season?

RW: Tom Holmes has been a standout in this regard this season.  He had only made one senior appearance for Reading prior to this campaign, but has now established himself as a key part of the side’s defence. In addition, several other players from the club's academy have been key members of Paunovic's first team, including Tom McIntrye, Michael Olise, Andy Rinomhota and Omar Richards.

Canaries.co.uk: With the number of young players the club have in the first team, and the manager’s record for developing talent, how optimistic are the supporters that the club can build on this campaign and make a serious push for the top two spots next season?

RW: It all depends on who stays really. Several players are out of contract this summer and with the current financial situation, Reading may well see a few players leave, should suitable offers come in. Omar Richards is set to depart and he will need to be replaced, but if too many established first team regulars go, it will be a difficult job to replace like-for-like and go again next season.

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Canaries.co.uk: Reading top the charts for the number of dribbles they complete per game. Which players in the Royals side are good in terms of carrying the ball forward and beating players in one v one situations?

RW: Josh Laurent has been a key player for Reading this season, driving Royals forward from the middle of the park alongside Andy Rinomhota. Signed on a free from Shrewsbury Town last season, the box-to-box midfielder has made a smooth step up to the Championship. In terms of dribbling ability, Ovie Ejaria has that in abundance. He can create from the wing and has caused plenty of problems for Championship defenders this season, while they have others who are also a threat, including Olise.
 
Canaries.co.uk: Are there any key players that might miss the game through injury or suspension or any players that might return to the starting line-up for the game?

RW: John Swift returned to the starting line-up on Sunday against Swansea City, and he really helped to make Reading tick for the first hour of the game. He has been a big miss this season, having been out injured for much of the campaign, and you wonder what difference he could have made had he been available for more of the season. Reading are still without Tom McIntyre, Michael Morrison and Felipe Araruna through injury. How many changes Paunovic could make, with play-offs now no longer possible, remains to be seen, although he has suggested that he will continue to name strong sides to be competitive.

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Match Reports

Canaries clinch title after comfortable 4-1 win over Reading

1 May 2021

Norwich City were crowned Sky Bet Championship title winners on Saturday following their 4-1 win over Reading at Carrow Road.

The victory, coupled with Watford's defeat at Brentford, meant City sealed their second Championship crown in three seasons with one game left to spare.

City had to come from behind to register their 29th league win of the season, with Josh Laurent’s header giving Reading the lead early on.

However, Kieran Dowell’s double helped the Canaries take the advantage with a goal in each half and the game was put beyond doubt when Xavi Quintilla struck a sensational free-kick into the top corner with ten minutes to go.

 

Daniel Farke once again named an unchanged starting eleven, with Quintilla continuing to deputise at left-back, with Dimitris Giannoulis serving the final game of his three-match suspension.

Reading handed a debut to young Dejan Tetek with their season effectively over after dropping points against Swansea City last week meant they could no longer make the end of season play-offs.

The Royals started well with their tricky ball players shifting the ball around at pace, although it was the hosts who threatened first. Recently crowned Norwich City and Championship player of the season Emi Buendia stole the ball from Lewis Gibson and drove towards goal but his left-footed shot flashed wide of goal.

On 12 minutes, Reading took the lead. A deep free-kick from the right hand side was nodded in at the back post by Josh Laurent.

After a sluggish start, the Canaries set about finding an equaliser and a good spell of play saw them go close twice on 20 minutes. First, a Buendia shot was spilled by Rafael Cabral but eventually cleared by the visitors, before City retrieved the ball in Reading’s defensive area which allowed Pukki to fire pastr Cabral, only for Tom Holmes to clear the ball off the line.

City’s pressure eventually paid off and they equalised on the half hour mark. A poor kick from Cabral put Reading under pressure and Dowell managed to divert past the Royals’ goalkeeper with the help of a deflection.

City continuing to threaten, with Dowell fluffing his lines on 39 minutes following a Pukki cutback, before Pukki had a go himself from distance, but his shot was well held by Cabral.

Reading ended the first-half on top though, with Michael Olise wasting a good opportunity from close range in stoppage time as he sliced the ball wide.

City began the second-half well and Buendia was again in the thick of the action, firing wide with a low shot from the edge of the area. Dowell then flashed an effort wide from a tight angle as City made their matchwinning intentions clear.

From the resulting corner, McLean met Quintilla’s corner and forced Cabral into a superb, reaction save before Buendia fizzed a low effort towards goal with Cabral was equal to.

City continued their ascendancy in the game and Cantwell curled over from a good position on the hour mark after a Max Aarons cutback.

Their second goal came on 64 minutes with Cantwell’s scooped pass into the area falling kindly for Dowell to convert into the bottom corner from a tight angle for 2-1.

On 70 minutes, Pukki had a golden chance to increased City’s lead. He benefitted from a Reading mistake at the back to see himself in the clear with only Cabral to beat but he could only lift the ball over the crossbar.

It looked set to be another one of those days for Pukki, who was through on goal again on 75 minutes following a sublime lofted pass from Dowell. The Finn lifted the ball over Cabral but it bounced wide.

However, there was no need to fret over those near misses as City put the result beyond doubt on 78 minutes – Quintilla curling a sensational free-kick into the top corner from distance for his second goal in as many games.

Pukki eventually got his name on the scoresheet late on, capitalising on another defensive mishap to round Cabral and smash into an empty net.

Norwich City XI: Krul (GK), Aarons, Hanley (c), Dowell (Tettey, 82), Cantwell (Hernandez, 86), Quintilla (Hugill, 86), Buendia (Vrancic, 82), Skipp, Pukki, McLean, Omobamidele
Subs not used: Nyland (GK), Placheta, Stiepermann, Sorensen, Mumba
Goals: Dowell (30, 64), Quintilla (78), Pukki (85)
Bookings: Aarons (17), Skipp (42)

Reading: Cabral (c) (GK), Richards, Olise (Esteves, 68), Swift (Meite, 61) , Ejaria, Gibson, Yiadom, Joao, Laurent, Holmes, Tetek (Semedo, 68)
Subs not used: Southwood (GK), Baldock, Aluko, Puscas, Dorsett, Camara
Goals: Laurent (12)
Bookings: Richards (25)

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