The Royals lost out under the lights tonight as goals from James Maddison and Cameron Jerome earned Daniel Farke's men an away win in spite of Liam Moore's first half header and a spirited Reading display.
- Inch-perfect free kick from Maddison hands visitors the lead
- Liam Moore back post header equalises three minutes later
- Jerome ghosts in at the far post to head City ahead once more
- Both Gunter and Jerome hit the woodwork
Two changes were made to the eleven that started at Millwall on Tuesday night, with Leandro Bacuna and Liam Kelly starting in midfield as Tiago Ilori and Dave Edwards dropped to the bench. Mo Barrow was fit enough to return to a substititues' bench that also included young Academy left-back Omar Richards.
Reading began patiently, bossing possession but every time they looked like they might have passed their way into some space they could attack, a misplaced ball frustratingly saw the move break down.
The visitors got their first sight of goal when Jerome was played in down the right side of the box. McShane got back and did enough to muscle the striker off the ball before he could take a shot at Vito Mannone's goal.
But the Canaries had the opening goal before ten minutes had been played. Joey van den Berg conceded a free kick 22 yards out in a central position and James Maddison swept a superb set piece over the Reading wall and into the top left corner.
Reading looked to respond immediately and Aluko juggled the ball into a shooting position only to lash an effort over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
But the Royals were level three minutes after going behind. McCleary was fouled by Tom Trybull and Aluko delivered a tantalising inswinging free kick that was met by Liam Moore at the far post. The centre-back directed his header past Angus Gunn and into the back of the net to make it 1-1.
Norwich were cursing their luck not to take the lead ten minutes further into the half. A ball over the top dropped kindly for Jerome who cushioned it down and stabbed a shot wide of Mannone...but it struck the base of the right post and ricocheted to safety.
McCleary got on the end of a deft touch to scurry into the box and stop it before it crossed the byline. But his pull back was hacked clear by Klose. Then Aluko arced a nice ball into the middle which Kelly nearly controlled, but the ball escaped him and bobbled behind for a goal kick.
Reading were playing much sharper in the final third and a dangerous cross from Aluko on the right was scrappily cleared with McCleary lurking. Moments later, McCleary went shoulder to shoulder with his man to win a ball over the top and, off balance, he instinctively tried to loop a left-fotoed effort at goal after Gunn had raced off his line looking to mop up. But the ball dropped agonisingly wide of the right upright.
With five minutes of the first half remaining, Blackett lost possession on the left and City worked the ball across the box to Murphy who drilled low at goal only for Mannone to gather it into his body with relative ease.
And as half-time neared, Murphy's pace caused the hosts problems as he raced onto an early direct ball over the top, cut inside Gunter and shot, only for Gunter to get in a timely block.
Half time | Reading 1-1 Norwich City
A powerful run from Blackett opened up the Norwich defence and he pulled the ball back well from the byline to pick out Beerens, but the Dutchman was outnumbered as he looked for a yard to take aim.
And Norwich took advantage by retaking the lead soon after. An inswinging corner from the left beat everyone except Jerome ghosting in at the back post who somehow squeezed a header into the top right corner with a well-placed header.
McCleary intercepted a Wes Hoolahan free kick that went astray and broke at pace, but rifled a shot wide of the bottom right corner without troubling Gunn.
With 22 minutes left, Reading came close to levelling matters once more. McCleary teed the ball up for Bodvarsson whose stabbed effort was charged down but Gunter followed up with a sizzling first time drive that beat Gunn and glanced the crossbar before going over.
Omar Richards and Mo Barrow were thrown onto the pitch with 15 minutes remaining, while Harrison Reed came off the bench for Norwich.
But time was running out as Beerens swept a free kick into the middle but Moore could only get a glance well wide of the Norwich goalframe.
Five minutes of injury time were signalled and the visitors had expertly taken the sting out of the game, although a late red card was shown to Marley Watkins after a dangerous challenge on Gunter.
Omar Richards tried to pass a cross into the middle after a nice exchange between Barrow and Beerens, then Moore tried a clever flick which almost presented Bodvarsson with a last gasp chance, but he was crowded out. And there was no way back for the hosts.
Full time | Reading 1-2 Norwich City
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Blackett (Richards 75), McShane (c), Moore, Van den Berg, Bacuna, Kelly, Beerens, McCleary (Barrow 75), Aluko (Bodvarsson 68).
Subs: Jaakkola, Ilori, Edwards, Clement.
Yellow: Bacuna, Beerens, Van den Berg
Goals: Moore 13
Norwich City: Gunn, Pinto (c), Husband, Zimmerman, Klose, Trybull, Hoolahan (Wildschut 84), Tettey, Maddison (Reed 76), Murphy (Watkins 60), Jerome.
Subs: McGovern, Vrancic, Hanley, Oliveira.
Goals: Maddison 10, Jerome 53