Reading 4 Norwich City 0

Last updated : 31 January 2006 By Footymad Previewer
Reading's relentless march towards the Premiership continued with a 4-0 thrashing of hapless Norwich.

Steve Coppell's Royals extended their unbeaten league run to a remarkable 30 games – a run which extends back to the opening day of the season – as they swept the Canaries aside with ease.

First-half goals from Nicky Shorey and Steve Sidwell were coupled with two more after the break from Leroy Lita and Bobby Convey to leave Reading within reach of a first ever season in the top-flight.

The victory leaves Reading 10 points clear of second placed Sheffield United and a massive 21 in front of Leeds, their nearest rivals for an automatic promotion place.

On this evidence though, there is no catching the runaway leaders.

Full-back Shorey swept them ahead inside six minutes, curling home a left-foot free-kick after Gary Doherty had tugged back Kevin Doyle.

Doherty was lucky to escape with only a booking for that challenge and even more fortunate not to receive a second yellow card five minutes later when he fouled Lita as the striker turned into the penalty area.

The defender's reprieve on that occasion came as referee Les Mason allowed Reading to play an advantage and striker Doyle should have done better than fire straight at the sprawling Robert Green.

But Reading did inflict their own further punishment on the Norwich defence on 17 minutes as a flowing move down the right ended with Sidwell heading a second.

Graeme Murty rolled the ball into the path of the forward rushing Glen Little and his pin-point cross was headed home by the diving Sidwell from six yards out.

Half-time substitute Jason Jarrett nearly struck with his first touch but saw his shot fly wide after Ibrahima Sonko had headed straight to him under pressure from Peter Thorne as Norwich briefly threatened a response.

But their hope was short lived as Reading quickly went on the offensive again.

Doyle saw a header drift just wide of the post from a clever Shorey centre, but the young striker then turned provider as Reading went 3-0 in front 10 minutes into the second half.

Doyle spun away from his marker wide on the left and swept in a low left-foot centre that saw Lita steal ahead of Simon Charlton and crash home his 11th goal of the season.

American international midfielder Convey, who looks a certainty for a World Cup place in Germany this summer, provided the flourish to a formidable performance with the best goal of the game.

Picking up a chipped pass from Shorey on the half-way line, Convey drifted inside and beat three defenders on his way to the penalty area before slotting home a cool low finish that left Norwich keeper Green with no chance.

Norwich's new £3.5million striker Robert Earnshaw, watching from the stands hours after completing his move from West Brom, is urgently needed on this evidence.