Reading continue to wait for their first win of the league campaign after being held 0-0 by Norwich City at the Madejski Stadium.
Despite being unable to leave the bottom three regardless of the result, Brian McDermott's men were left to rue a number of missed chances which would have earned them their first three points since winning promotion from the Championship last term.
That said, the visitors had their own fair share of opportunities to take all the spoils back to East Anglia, with captain Grant Holt unable to trouble Adam Federici with a number of chances created by dynamic service from the likes of Wes Hoolahan, Anthony Pilkington and Javier Garrido.
Despite a glut of 18 goals in the last two matches staged at the Madejski, the Royals remained the lowest-scoring side in the Premier League ahead of kick-off.
And though the hosts had a few decent chances early on, with Garath McCleary toasting John Ruddy’s palms with a wicked speculative strike on 14 minutes and Noel Hunt almost creating an opening for strike partner Jason Roberts on 29 after Sebastien Bassong was caught napping on the ball, the first half remained mostly pedestrian.
Chris Hughton’s side also had their fair share of half-opportunities, with Hoolahan central to most of them. The Irish midfielder teed up Pilkington to fire over Federici’s crossbar on 22 before forcing a good piece of defensive improvisation from Sean Morrison moments later.
The contest opened up in the second half, though again neither side was able to find the breakthrough.
Unforgivably casual defending from the hosts allowed Norwich a second bite of the cherry after an initial long ball forward fell into white and blue possession, with Hoolahan unmarked at the ‘D’ to blast wide of the mark.
The double introduction of Jimmy Kebe and Pavel Pogrebnyak for Hunt and McCleary on the hour sparked new life into the Royals. Kebe troubled the Norwich defenders straight away and then Jobi McAnuff almost found the net in spectacular fashion on 67 as he cut inside Steven Whittaker on the left before evading the attempted cover tackle by Hoolahan; the home captain them unleashed a dazzling curled effort which just failed to dip in time to find the correct side of the crossbar.
Kebe continued to torment and seconds after having a dangerous low centre cut out by Michael Turner with 20 minutes left, floated in a second delivery which bounced square on top of Ruddy’s crossbar before going out.
The Canaries attacked immediately thereafter and Garrido’s sumptuous cross from the left picked out Holt yards from goal, but the striker over-arched trying to meet the ball perfectly and somehow headed off-target.
Holt once again wasted a golden chance seven minutes from time, this time sending a tame nodded finish straight into Federici’s clutches after Pilkington’s ball in on the counter-attack.
Norwich, meanwhile, drop one place to 15th and are only five points above their hosts for the day despite a recent run of good form.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City): The creative driving force of a game in need of a spark at times. Directed traffic both centrally and via the visitors' most productive channel out on the left.
Reading: Federici 7; Gunter 5, Shorey 7, Morrison 8, Gorkss 7; Leigertwood 6, Tabb 6, McCleary 7, McAnuff 7; Hunt 6, Roberts 7. SUBS: Kebe 7, Le Fondre 5, Pogrebnyak 5. ///
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