Reading 3, Norwich City 3

Skipper Grant Holt was sent off and manager Paul Lambert sent to the stands as Norwich City took a hard-earned point from a six-goal thriller at the Madejski Stadium.

City were leading 3-1 when Holt was shown the red card in the final minute of the first half by 25-year-old referee Michael Oliver for a foul on Ian Harte, and it proved a turning point as they survived a second-half onslaught..

Russell Martin had given City a 16th-minute lead with his second goal of the season and Holt made it 2-0 10 minutes later after intercepting a poor backpass by opposing captain Matt Mills.

Harte reduced the arrears two minutes later but when Chris Martin fired in a direct free-kick to make it 3-1, City looked in control.

Holt's dismissal on the stroke of half-time put them on the back foot and Reading dominated the second half with a one-man advantage.


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Noel Hunt pulled a goal back on 59 minutes and, two minutes later, it was 3-3 when Shane Long scored from the spot after a foul by Simon Lappin.

City made three changes in the closing stages and held on for a point, with manager Paul Lambert sent to the stand in stoppage time.

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Lambert recalled Andrew Crofts after his one-match ban and it was Wes Hoolahan who made way, the one change from the team that started the 1-1 draw at Millwall on Tuesday.

Hoolahan was on the substitutes' bench for the second time in five matches, with 18-year-old Josh Dawkin dropping out of the 18.

Reading forced the first corner in the fourth minute, Lappin heading clear from Hunt's kick.

City broke for the first time through Chris Martin and Korey Smith, but when Smith fed Russell Martin, the full-back's cross was far too strong.

Then goalkeeper Federici had to be quick to clear when Mills' backpass almost let in Holt.

Reading missed the chance to go ahead on seven minutes when the unmarked Long met Howard's cross with a volley, but straight at 'keeper Ruddy.

Holt battled well to create space on the right but his low cross was cut out by Karacan.

After a fairly quiet opening, the Canaries moved ahead in the 16th minute with Russell Martin scoring his second goal of the season.

Martin played a one-two with Korey Smith on the right-hand edge of the Reading penalty area and finished in style as he beat Federici with a powerful drive into the roof of the net.

As the home side tried to get back into the contest, Long crossed from the right but Church's header looped upwards and landed on the roof of the net.

It was 2-0 in the 26th minute when skipper Holt scored his sixth goal of the season after a disastrous error by opposing captain Mills.

Under pressure from Chris Martin, Mills tried to turn the ball back to Federici but his pass fell short and Holt nipped in, sidestepped the 'keeper and tucked the ball home from the narrowest of angles.

However, Reading were back in contention inside two minutes thanks to veteran Harte.

Fox conceded a corner on the Reading right, which was met by a glancing header by Church that Fox kept out on the goalline but Harte knocked in the rebound.

City restored their lead on 32 minutes, however, when Chris Martin scored for the second Saturday in a row.

Martin struck from a direct free-kick from some 25 yards out that beat Federici by his right-hand post.

Reading almost reduced the arrears again when Hunt headed wide from a McAnuff cross.

As the action continued unabated, Federici denied Holt goal number four with an important save after Chris Martin's flick had put the skipper through.

Howard struck a long-range effort that Ruddy was right behind as the hosts returned to the attack.

Ruddy was called upon again, tipping over a stinging effort from Long.

Mills and Barnett needed attention after colliding just outside the Norwich area, with the Reading skipper appearing to come off worse with a blow to the back of the head.

As if there had not been enough drama, City were reduced to 10 men in the final minute of the half when Holt was shown a straight red card.

Holt caught Harte a little late just inside the Reading half, the full-back reacting angrily and rolling around clutching his ankle, but it appeared no more than a yellow card offence and Holt looked stunned when referee Oliver produced the red.

City boss Lambert had words with the official as the teams left the field at half-time. HALF-TIME: Reading 1, Norwich City 3

With Holt out of the action, Russell Martin led City out for the second half, with Chris Martin operating as the lone striker.

Reading almost pulled a goal back five minutes after the break when Ruddy dived to his right to push a powerful shot by Church on to the post.

Three minutes later, Reading made their first change with Antonio replacing Howard.

The substitute made his first contribution by finding enough room to squeeze in a cross to the near post, but Ruddy was perfectly placed to cut it out.

With just under an hour played, Reading did reduce the arrears when Karacan found Hunt on the left side of the penalty area and he clipped a shot over Ruddy.

Things swiftly became worse for 10-man City when the Royals levelled with a penalty by Long.

Lappin brought down Long and referee Oliver pointed to the spot and after protests by the Canaries, Lappin was booked and Long tucked the penalty to Ruddy's right.

Hunt headed over from Harte's cross midway through the half when he might have made it 4-3.

City made their first change when Jackson replaced McNamee and, with two strikers on the field again, Chris Martin was only just off target with a header from Lappin's cross.

Ruddy made another fine save when he dived to his left to keep out McAnuff's powerful effort.

Mills was booked for a foul on Jackson.

A Reading corner produced another scare when Ruddy failed to reach McAnuff's kick but Mills knocked the loose ball over.

Ruddy made a point-blank save from Long after a rare error by Ward and McAnuff's follow-up attempt was blocked.

Ward then returned the favour by making a vital clearance after the 'keeper spilled a shot by McAnuff.

There was another escape with nine minutes left when Griffin beat Lappin but his cross whistled across the face of goal.

City replaced Fox with Gill with nine minutes left and there was another change when Daley replaced Chris Martin.

A bad foul by Karacan on Korey Smith left the City man needing treatment and before play resumed Lambert was sent to the stands.

Gill almost put a clearance into his own net when he dived for a header in his own area.

City boss Paul Lambert said of Holt's dismissal: 'Completely pathetic. Nigh on pathetic. I've seen it 19 times, it's maybe a foul but never a sending off.

'He was brilliant. Holt was on fire, him and Chris Martin caused them no end of problems and to send him off was incredible. There was only one team in it (before the sending off).

'I don't mind getting beat and I don't mind right decisions but that was pathetic, that.' RESULT: Reading 3, Norwich City 3

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