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19:20 13th November 2010

Report: Royals fight back for point

Reading 3 (Harte 29, Hunt 59, Long 62 (pen))
Norwich City 3 (R Martin 16, Holt 26, C Martin 32)

The Royals staged another second half comeback to earn a 3-3 draw at home to Norwich in a pulsating game this Saturday evening.

We were 3-1 down at half time, Ian Harte our scorer, but two goals in two minutes in the second half against City's ten men got us back on level terms. Grant Holt was sent off just before half time for a late challenge on Ian Harte, and at the interval boss Brian McDermott also asked his players to up their game - they responded in style.

Noel Hunt and then a Shane Long penalty secured us the point, and we could well have taken all three after a number of near things and a string of saves from City keeper John Ruddy.

Sub Michail Antonio made a good impact from the bench and he went close, while Hunt was inches away from a low cross that would have made it 4-3.

The entertainment at Madejski Stadium in recent weeks has been of the highest order, as well as the character our boys are displaying, and it was just a shame we were so close to snatching a win.

Reading: Federici; Griffin, Harte, Khizanishvili, Mills (c); Karacan, Howard (Antonio 53), McAnuff; Hunt, Church , Long.
Subs: McCarthy, Cummings, Pearce, Armstrong, Tabb, Robson-Kanu
Booked: Mills (foul 71)

Norwich City: Ruddy; R Martin, Lappin, Barnett, Ward; Fox (Gill 82), Hoolahan, Lappin, McNamee (Jackson 68); Holt (c), C Martin (Daley 83)
Subs: Rudd, Johnson, Hoolahan, Askou
Booked: Lappin (foul 61)
Sent off : Holt (foul 44)

Attendance: 15,943 (1,316 away)

Referee: Mr M Oliver

Starting XI team news
The Royals named the same team that took on Cardiff in midweek, while Noel Hunt, Simon Church and Shane Long all starting in an attacking line-up.

Click here to see the teamsheet from the game.

First half
Reading had the first sight of goal after an excellent team move on eight minutes. Brian Howard found Simon Church, who put in a nice cross that Shane Long caught well on the volley but his left-footed effort was saved by John Ruddy.

Norwich then began to find their feet, and with 15 minutes on the clock they opened the scoring. Simon Lappin played a neat through ball for Richard Martin, who had got forward well from right back and lashed home a high finish from eight yards out.

The goal allowed City to be the driving force in the game, but we looked for a response soon after when Long's cross was headed over by Church; a difficult opportunity under pressure.

27 minutes in it was 2-0, Grant Holt producing an excellent finish to capitalise on a short back pass from Matt Mills.

Immediately though we got a foothold in the game, Howard's corner finding its way to Ian Harte, who stabbed home from inside the six yard box.

We looked to gain momentum with the goal, but Norwich then scored again, Chris Martin turning home a very good free kick that was just above the wall and just out of Adam Federici's grasp.

We looked for another immediate response, and Noel Hunt was inches wide with a header. Federici then had to make a good ave at Holt's feet; an important stop.

It was breathless stuff, and six minutes before the break Jobi McAnuff played a low ball into Howard, his good effort going straight at Ruddy. We kept pushing, and Long hit a cracking drive but Ruddy was able to tip it over.

There was also a decent shout for handball as we approached half time, and then a moment of controversy right on half time. Holt was shown a straight red for a challenge on Harte, and it looked a harsh decision against the City frontman.

Second half
Five minutes after the break Ruddy produced a magnificent save to tip Church's superb long range strike onto the post; a fantastic stop.

We were building pressure all the time, and right on the hour Hunt scored a lovely finish after very good play from Jem Karacan.

Within a minute we were level, Lappin clearly bringing down Long in the box, the Irishman slamming home the spot kick himself.

We were relentless, and Church had an effort saved before Hunt headed a great chance over from Harte's superb cross. City then had a rare foray forward and Chris Martin was very close with a header.

Ruddy was the busiest man on the pitch, and made an excellent save from McAnuff's long range effort.

Sub Michail Antonio was having a real impact on the game, and from his cross Long had a header deflected wide.

Harte then played a fabulous ball for Long, but Ruddy was out well and a City defender blocked McAnuff's follow-up.

Ruddy then spilled another McAnuff shot, but a teammate was on hand to hack away.

Andy Griffin whipped in a fabulous low cross with ten minutes left and it was inches away from Hunt at the back post. With four left, McAnuff hit another one from distance but it went over the top.

Karacan had a decent chance from the edge of the box on 88 minutes but curled it a foot above bar and post.

To add to the drama, right on full time City boss Paul Lambert was sent to the stand for going 30 yards down the touchline to remonstrate with the linesman after a tackle.

As injury time began, City had to head off their own line from a Harte corner and they were desperate to hang on. City sub Matt Gill was then inches away from an own goal and we were absolutely camped in their penalty area.

Antonio then hit a good effort right on full time but it was blocked and that was the end of an incredible game.

    Data provided by Press Association