Wokingham Today

Joey: ‘We don’t want to look down’

Norwich City 3 Reading 2

- By TOM CROCKER tcrocker@wokinghamp­aper.co.uk

JOEY VAN DEN BERG admits Reading “don’t want to look down” as they slid closer to the relegation zone with defeat at Carrow Road.

The Royals’ shambolic season took another wrong turn as they lost at Norwich to drop to 20th in the Championsh­ip, now just three points clear of the bottom three with eight games to play.

Shoddy defending from set pieces allowed Mario Vrancic and Grant Hanley to put the Canaries

2-0 up before Liam Kelly pulled a goal back.

James Maddison restored the two-goal cushion from the penalty spot and despite a goal from Sam Smith early in the second half, his first in the Championsh­ip, Norwich were guilty of wasting numerous chances to extend their lead.

Now winless in nine matches and with just one victory in 18 league games, relegation fears are growing and midfielder van den Berg admits time is running out to halt the slide.

“It looks like first we have to be in a negative situation to be able to get something positive out of it, which is not good,” said the Dutchman.

“When you concede goals like that it’s hard to play our football, which is a bit disappoint­ing.

“Norwich dropped off after the

3-1 so you had loads of space to create opportunit­ies and I think we did that better in the second half.

“We just need to start better and not concede goals too easily.

“We have to wake up, maybe it’s a bit late to say that but we’re getting closer to the bottom three and we don’t want to look down.

“We’ve still got it in our own hands, I’m confident that we can do it but being able to do it and actually doing it is a bit different.”

Jaap Stam made two changes from the side which lost at Wolves with academy duo Kelly and Smith brought in for George Evans and the injured Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.

The deadlock was broken on 14 minutes when Norwich, who themselves had not won in seven games, got in front with Maddison’s corner flicked on by Hanley and turned in by Vrancic at the back post.

That lead was doubled after more woeful marking by the Reading defence, allowing Henley to power a header past Anssi Jaakkola.

Royals responded to pull one back just past the half hour mark. With Tyler Blackett and Sone Aluko denied from close range, the ball fell kindly for Kelly to sweep home.

The joy was short-lived as just moments later it was 3-1. Reading allowed Maddison acres of space on the right and he broke into the box, only to be stopped by Jaakkola.

Referee Oliver Langford pointed to the spot and Maddison stepped up himself, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way from the resulting penalty.

Stam’s charges reduced the arrears five minutes after the restart when Kelly’s deep cross was volleyed in by Smith to give the visitors hope.

But in truth they were fortunate to only lose 3-2 with Dennis Srbeny squanderin­g a late chance.

There are now no games until Good Friday’s visit of Queens Park Rangers due to the internatio­nal break.

“We started the game really poorly,” admitted assistant boss Andries Ulderink.

“We played a very bad first half and we are really disappoint­ed with that.

“We have to change that, otherwise it will be very hard to get results in the run-in.

“We’re in a 100% relegation scrap. We know the situation is not good.

“We know where we are and how we’ve performed so far this season.

“It’s not going to be an easy job to stay away from the relegation zone.”

READING: Jaakkola, Gunter (c), Ilori, Moore, Blackett, Clement, Kelly (van den Berg 62), Edwards (Kermorgant 82), Aluko (Swift

52), Barrow, Smith.

Subs not used: Mannone, Holmes, Bacuna, Evans.

Goals: Kelly (32), Smith (51)

Yellow cards: Jaakkola (36), Clement (45), Barrow (70), Blackett (73), Kermorgant (89)

NORWICH: Gunn, Pinto (c), Hanley, Klose, Lewis, Reed, Vrancic, Hernandez (Zimmerman 90+5), Maddison, Murphy (Hoolahan 90+2), Srbeny (Watkins 90). Subs not used: McGovern, Husband, Edwards, Oliveira.

Goals: Vrancic (14), Hanley (26), Maddison (pen) (37)

Yellow cards: Hernandez (35), Hanley (62)

Referee: Oliver Langford

Attendance: 25,098

 ??  ?? Joey van den Berg tries to retrieve possession
Joey van den Berg tries to retrieve possession

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