Norwich City dished out a thrash­ing to stunned Read­ing

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Blair Ferguson

NORWICH CITY put on a stun­ning 45-minute dis­play to score six first-half goals against Read­ing in what care­taker man­ager Alan Irvine re­gards as the best dis­play of the sea­son from the Ca­naries.

The home side ran riot, Wes Hoola­han and Alex Pritchard scor­ing twice each and Nel­son Oliveira and Rus­sell Martin once be­fore the in­ter­val. Yann Ker­mor­gant net­ted what proved to be a con­so­la­tion for the vis­i­tors late in the first half, and Cameron Jerome rounded off the scor­ing three min­utes be­fore the end.

The mid­week de­feat to Huddersfield all but ended Norwich’s chance of a play-off spot, but Irvine was de­lighted with the re­ac­tion from his play­ers against a team bat­tling for pro­mo­tion.

“That was the best per­for­mance of the sea­son bear­ing in mind the qual­ity of the op­po­si­tion,” he said. “It could have been more be­cause we missed a num­ber of chances in the sec­ond half that we would nor­mally re­gret, but we were in a great po­si­tion at half-time.

“I said that there needed to be a re­sponse and I said to the play­ers it was vi­tally im­por­tant that they re­acted in a pos­i­tive way af­ter what hap­pened, and full credit to them. They took a lot of crit­i­cism af­ter the Huddersfield game. I told them that I couldn’t pro­tect them.

“Now I think I should fully praise them be­cause they went about their jobs ab­so­lutely bril­liantly and the per­for­mance was out­stand­ing.”

An early goal from the spot from Oliveira opened the scor­ing for Norwich and Hoola­han added a sec­ond in the 15th minute as Read­ing heads be­gan to drop af­ter a poor start.

De­fen­sive mis­takes were rife in the Read­ing back­line, with a Jor­dan Mutch er­ror mak­ing way for Pritchard’s stun­ning vol­ley be­fore some loose mark­ing al­lowed Martin to add a sim­ple fourth af­ter Ali Al-Habsi saved from Oliveira.

Pritchard piled on the mis­ery for the vis­i­tors with an un­chal­lenged run to the edge of the box be­ing fin­ished with a pre­cise low ef­fort into the bot­tom right cor­ner.

Ker­mor­gant pulled one back for the vis­i­tors af­ter a fan­tas­tic John Ruddy save de­nied Lewis Grab­ban’s close-range header, but a come­back never looked likely.

Any glim­mer of hope was ex­tin­guished two min­utes later, with some very weak de­fend­ing and goal­keep­ing al­low­ing Hoola­han to score while ly­ing on the floor af­ter Al-Habsi had got enough on the ini­tial shot to keep it out.

Jerome com­pleted the goals for Norwich three min­utes af­ter com­ing on, com­pound­ing the mis­ery for Jaap Stam’s team, and the Roy­als man­ager made no ex­cuses for their dis­play in a game dur­ing which they looked to give up af­ter 15 min­utes.

“As a team if you can’t bring what you nor­mally bring then it’s go­ing to be very hard, es­pe­cially if you’re play­ing against a side like Norwich,” said Stam.

“You know they can pun­ish you. If you look at the first half, ba­si­cally ev­ery shot on tar­get was a goal, the ball fell in front of their feet in­stead of ours.

“We’ve been in the top six be­cause we’ve played in a cer­tain way, be­cause play­ers have been work­ing very hard and do­ing very well. Some­times you’re up to a cer­tain stan­dard and then you need to go to the next step and im­prove when you play teams like this or you lose 7-1.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

HOO ARE YA: Norwich City's Wes Hoola­han cel­e­brates their sec­ond goal, inset

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