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Last Updated: Monday, 12 April, 2004, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK
Reading 0-1 Norwich
Phil Mulryne
Mulryne scored a rare goal
Norwich took another huge step towards the Premiership as Phil Mulryne's controversial 85th-minute winner saw off a determined Reading side.

The ball bounced off referee Neale Barry inside the penalty area and fell to Mulryne, who lobbed keeper Jamie Ashdown to win the game.

It moved Norwich back top of the table, two points clear of West Brom who dropped two points against Millwall.

The Canaries could clinch promotion by winning their next two games.

The result was another major blow to Reading's play-off hopes following their defeat at lowly Bradford on Saturday.

In an open start to the match, Mathias Svensson and Darren Huckerby combined to create the first real opening of the match for the visitors.

The Swede flicked on Green's long clearance, and Huckerby fired in a low right-footed shot from 18 yards which Jamie Ashdown tipped onto the outside of his left-hand post.

At the other end, Green produced a superb save diving low to his right to parry Steve Sidwell's drilled strike from the edge of the penalty area.

The hosts again threatened when Nicky Forster - making his first start for the Royals after nearly three months out with a stomach injury - headed Paul Brooker's right flank-cross straight at Green.

Just before the break Cooper's vicious left-footed drive from 25 yards nearly squirmed under Ashdown, but the Reading keeper was able to gather the ball at the second attempt.

After the interval, Huckerby then had a decent appeal for a penalty turned down after he was clumsily tumbled over by Ivar Ingimarsson.

The visitors continued to pile on the pressure Ashdown had to make a sprawling stop to keep out a Damien Francis shot from point-blank range.

However, the Canaries finally broke the deadlock in the dying seconds, thanks to a supreme piece of opportunism from Mulryne, who had been introduced as a late replacement for Paul McVeigh.

Dean Gordon attempted to clear Marc Edworthy's long throw but the ball cannoned off the referee into the path of Mulryne, who spun to fire an unerring right-footed volley into the top-left corner of the net from 15 yards.


Reading: Ashdown, Murty, Hughes, Williams, Ingimarsson, Brooker, Sidwell, Harper, Salako, Forster, Kitson. Subs: Young, Gordon, Morgan, Goater, Owusu.

Norwich: Green, Edworthy, Drury, Mackay, Fleming, Cooper, Holt, Francis, McVeigh, Huckerby, Svensson. Subs: Crichton, Mulryne, Roberts, McKenzie, Brennan.

Referee: N Barry (N Lincolnshire)



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