The depleted Canaries travelled to Berkshire with a number of key players on the treatment table. Reading had also never lost their first four home league games of a season. Never, ever. Along Come Norwich, and here's Ffion Thomas to tell you how....
Another pre-match press conference bringing bad news about a lengthy injury to a key player, but another match where their replacement steps up big time. On Saturday it was Christoph Zimmermann (and he put in another colossal performance here); on Wednesday it was Todd Cantwell, who on his league debut ably filled the boots of Onel Hernandez with a brilliant assist for the opening goal and a composed performance throughout. Fingers crossed that the pre-QPR presser won’t bring more bad news, mind.
Moment of the match
More like “minute of the match”. Reading’s extended pressure finally told with a goalmouth scramble, but the PA man barely had time to pause Zombie Nation on his MiniDisc player when Marco “I don’t know where he’s playing but I love it” Stiepermann went on a marauding run that bewildered the Biscuitmen’s backline sufficiently to make space for the second expertly-arrowed finish of the night. Little known fact: Zombie Nation is the artist, Kernkraft 400 is the song title.
Random star performer
Jordan Rhodes, whose 86th minute cameo saw him wind the clock down to perfection. Sometimes you’ve just got to get it in the corner and smash it repeatedly off the legs of the opposition defenders.
Bookending the match with a good start and end, but dropping well off the pace in the middle third. If we could turn these good 25-minute periods into something more consistent over 90 minutes - even if the intensity inevitably has to drop off at some point - we’re capable of being more than a match for most teams. I harbour hopes we’ll increasingly demonstrate that in the coming weeks.
If he had three games to save his job, then he’s certainly going the right way about the first two-thirds of it - topped off with some good Faust-Pumpende when the staff and players came over to thank the away end after the final whistle.
Oddly subdued in the first half, given how well we played for the first 20 minutes at least, but picked up well in the second, with any angst at conceding given no time to settle in. The Madejski Stadium is a soulless warehouse of despair even when Reading haven’t lost 100% of their home league games so it wasn’t exactly on top form on this occasion, but given that the presence of drums in stadiums was recently a hot topic around the water coolers of Norwich, it was at least timely to visit a club that, on the basis of this visit, are reliant on one to generate any semblance of atmosphere. In the first half, some in the away end made a point of telling them where they could stick it - but amid a few extended periods of near-silence, its sometimes familiar beats were the only thing that kick-started a piggyback Norwich chant. Hang on, I thought we didn’t need a drum?
For Reading, this was a case of Gone in 64 Seconds: had they managed some basic defending from the kick-off and built further on the pressure they’d been exerting since half-time, they might well have nicked another and left us kicking ourselves. As it was, we caught them cold before their concentration returned, and never really looked like relinquishing the lead again. Yes, we probably won’t play many worse teams than Reading this season - but you still have to beat them.
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