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Norwich City 4-1 Reading

The last team that you want to play when your season has all but ended, is a side that have the opportunity to clinch something. Least of all the best team in the league that can win the title. With Moore and Rino injured there were surprise starts for Lewis Gibson and Dejan Tetek. Up front we saw the rare quartet of Ovie, Swift, EFL Young Player of the Season Michael Olise, and Joao.

Gibson and Tetek had differing games. The Everton loanee struggled at the back, gifting numerous opportunities to The Canaries. Within the first two-and-a-half minutes, he'd played a poor pass that was easily intercepted by Buendía but he did manage to cut out the Argentinian's pass. In fact, none of his mistakes cost The Royals on a day where he made more than a few.

His centre back partner, on the other hand, had a relatively good match outside of two horrendous mistakes that were punished. Holmes passing was crucial in playing out from the back again but, alas, it was two passes back to Rafael that his game will be remembered for. The first, half an hour in, gave up Reading's lead. He tried to play a no-look backpass to his goalkeeper but Pukki read it, forcing Raf to slide into a challenge. Dowell's first touch on the edge of the area wasn't great but allowed him to get there before Tetek, Holmes, or Rafael. His finish ricocheted off the diving keeper and ended up in the back of the net.

Pukki is already expecting the pass Holmes is about to make

Given the second came at 3-1 down, with five minutes left, it's almost unimportant. It was, however, almost the exact same mistake as the first. That time it stemmed from a longer backpass that he's not realised Pukki is again alert to. The Finn didn't need to rely on others, as he got to the ball first and rounded Rafael. The Championship's second top-scorer was almost literally able to walk the ball in.

In terms of Tetek, his best moments unsurprisingly came in the opening stanza when Reading were on the front foot. In fact, he had a large part in the opening goal. Cantwell had dribbled the ball away from an Ejaria penalty shout, and Tetek pressured him to keep the ball in Norwich's corner - blocking the pass for a throw. He managed to turn that over before winning a foul. Then it was as simple as Olise putting it onto the head of Laurent. Norwich's defenders seemed more preoccupied with Holmes (maybe that can counteract one of his mistakes), leaving the midfielder totally unoccupied.

It was interesting that Tetek came in on the right side. Given he's left-footed he's usually deployed on the left of that screen in the U23s alongside Pendlebury but it's presumably down to Laurent favouring the left side. Plus it's beneficial to keep him in the role he's played all season rather than needlessly move more players around. Whether it's Tetek or the opposition remains to be seen, but Swift also didn't drop as deep and Tetek picked a couple of nice passes that show a little bit of promise for next season.

Reading had the ability to stretch play against a Norwich side who focused all their attention on the centre, but didn't always manage it

A lack of width has been killer for Reading on numerous occasions, but both Reading's fullbacks attempted to provide it. Norwich's defence narrowed as the play headed toward their goal to a remarkable extent, allowing space on the flanks, but unsurprisingly the away side never fully capitalised. Olise's late run toward the end of the first half was the closest they got, but his right foot has never been his strongest. That showed as he wildly missed the target.

Ovie does spot the danger but isn't alert to Cantwell's skill level

The second half was an onslaught right from the get-go. Rafael was forced into a seriously impressive save within the first two minutes from a similar position to where Norwich would go ahead not long after. On that occasion, Dowell gave Tetek the slip, for the goal it was Ejaria. Ovie did well to spot the danger but thought his task was done as the ball went wide to Cantwell. Instead, Blondie flicked the ball over the defender (Tetek again, maybe he could have been a tad more aggressive in closing down), and Dowell completed the job.

It's hard to be too critical of Rafael in a match where he not only kept us in the game, but was hung out to dry by his defence, but it's a bad angle to be beaten from. Had he stayed standing he probably would have got a foot on it. That said, I think he's slightly taken by surprise that the goalscorer manages to control his volley and get it to keep low.

I think Semedo has stopped expecting to get the pass, and his body shape to receive the ball ends up being all wrong

The third goal is another shambles. Richards played a ball across to Semedo which the midfielder miscontrolled. On first viewing, I thought it had a touch more venom than it did, but equally, it wasn't the nicest pass in the world - bouncing just in front of its target. Meanwhile, Semedo spent too long scanning and then wasn't ready to receive the pass. In the end, fouling Cantwell on the edge of the box.

It's always impressive when a free-kick goes in, but Quintillá's just looks wrong. It's not close to being in the corner. Despite clearly being in the zone of 'too close to get up and down' it's made easier by the fact the wall doesn't jump. The only reason for that can be that they're too scared of a shot underneath them, but in that case, put a man beneath the wall. Sure, it looks stupid, but I've yet to see anyone score that route while they're in use (I have seen very few goals beneath the wall either way). I'm gonna give Rafael the benefit of the doubt on this one and put it down to what seems like his smaller than average wingspan (for a Championship goalkeeper, at least).

These games mean very little, so if we can use them to give extra rest to players who aren't 100% and not risk aggravating injuries then perfect. If we can use them to give players like Tetek a bit of experience, that's even better. If Holmes can take lessons out of his mistakes, then that's just yet another positive.


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