Match Report: 2011/2012 Season

5 November 2011: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Hunt (75 mins).
Birmingham City: -
Half Time: 0-0.

Attendance: 18,361

Pos Team P Pts GD
13 Birmingham 13 21 +4
14 READING 16 21 +1
15 Ipswich 15 20 -6
Reading: A Federici, K Gorkss, A Pearce, J Mills, S Cummings, J McAnuff, M Leigertwood, J Kebe (H Robson-Kanu, 69), J Karacan, A Le Fondre, S Church (N Hunt, 75).
Subs not used: I Harte, M Andersen, M Manset.
Birmingham City: B Myhill, L Ridgewell, J Spector, S Carr, C Davies, S Caldwell, C Burke, K Fahey, W Elliott (N Zigic, 82), M King (N Redmond, 82), C Wood.
Subs not used: D Murphy, G N'Daw, C Doyle.
Reading: -
Birmingham City: Spector, Davies
Ref: M Halsey.
Having seen their own unbeaten run come to an end away to Forest earlier in the week, the Royals bounced back with an excellent home win to end City's unbeaten run of nine games. Reading have played well in recent games and with the defence only conceding four goals in seven games now, it is only the lack of fire power which has prevented them from breaking into the play-off positions. City, with a wealth of Premiership experience in their squad, were full of confidence and clearly not ruffled by Reading's early and lively assault on their goal. It was a highly entertaining game with chances at either end throughout as both teams went for the win. In the end it took a deft touch from substitute Noel Hunt to turn in a McAnuff cross to secure the points their recent performances deserved.

Brian McDermott had urged his players to 'be brave with the ball' in this match and Church showed the way running deep into City territory from the kick-off before finding Kebe with a pass. Kebe's disappointing contribution was to drive a cross into the legs of the City full back which typified his performance this afternoon. Back in the starting line up he seemed unwilling to take players on and unable to make room to deliver a decent cross. Gorkks however provided an early threat in the air attacking good deliveries from McAnuff but Myhill saved well. It didn't take City long to retaliate with Woods testing Federici with a very good strike from the edge of the box. Mills had his best game so far in every respect and almost opened the scoring with a surging run and magnificent dipping strike which Myhill just managed to tip over for a corner. In spite of Reading's pressure City's back four remained composed and played the ball calmly out defence. Woods, always a danger drew another save from Federici with a header. McAnuff headed wide just before half time when Kebe finally delivered a cross.

Reading set about their task with even greater relish in the second half but City were not prepared to sit back and the crowd was treated to a fast open game. Leigertwood and Karacan were superb yet again and helped to provide Reading with slightly more possession. Kebe gave way to Robson-Kanu with twenty minutes left, which turned out to be a crucial change in that it resulted in McAnuff switching wings. A sloppy pass allowed McAnuff to bear down unchallenged on Myhill and he really should have done better but Myhill was able to make a save. Pearce almost gave the visitors the lead deflecting a cross onto the post and Reading were lucky to escape when Woods blasted the rebound high and wide. Hunt replaced the industrious Church and settled the game with what was probably his first touch after good work from McAnuff wide on the right. As the game drew a to close the Royals wisely stayed on the front foot but it did leave a few gaps at the back to give home fans a few anxious moments. By then, City manager Chris Hughton had become, sending on the biggest players available on the bench to put pressure on Gorkks and Pearce who had both dealt admirably with everything in the air.

So the pattern continues. Reading are hard to beat. They defend well and often dominate the central midfield areas, but Church and Le Fondre are finding scoring opportunities hard to come by in spite of their willingness to run and receive the ball. McAnuff's contribution late in the game shows the way, and if Kebe can regain his form the charge for the play-offs may well begin. Reading have played most of the top sides this season and have looked better than most of them at times, but too many draws have kept them firmly in the bottom half of the table. This win brings three important points and it will have done wonders for confidence and morale.
John Wells

Sorry but karacan is nowhere near as good as Reading fans make out. His game is really, really limited. Having slated Mills in recent weeks he really stepped up today and looked solid, sensible with the ball and played very well. Was shocked at the huge outcry when he did that awful set piece as he was playing well apart from that and his head could have dropped after that booing. I would even go as far as to suggest he was my MOM. The back 5 are looking more solid but Birmingham still did create chances so its not flawless, feds has continued on his good form and all those calling for him to be dropped earlier this season have been proved to be talking nonsense. Very steady performance from him. Going forward we are just poor, I need to see that goal again but it looked like the defender left the ball for the keeper and hunt came in and poached....we have a real problem creating any real clear cut chances down to a lack of creativity in the middle of the park and our two former best players now simply beyond awful on either wing. I can't believe just how generally hopeless kebe is...mcanuff bar the cross for the goal was again poor. I think 90% of the ground would have finished that 1v1 better. Medium height....medium power...right at the keeper at the near post/middle of the goal? I mean really... :| what an awful finish. Birmingham were the side looking to play the ball on the deck and played some good stuff at times, we simply boot to the channels still and its really not effective now we don't have long. Why don't the team get this? All in all its a good and much needed three points, a draw would have been a fair result but we were due a win and hopefully we can push on. Can't really see this as a spring board as I think attacking wise we are simply a lot worse than the top teams in the division but if we grind out wins we'll stay away from relegation and keep us mid table with a glimmer of a play-off spot.

We played ok, but no where near our best. Really happy for Mills - Readings man of the match. Hunt has to start the next game. He deserves his chance now, having watched church contribute nothing for weeks. If someone could explain to me what church offers this team it would be much appreciated. I can't see anything. Kebe and mcanuff are going through a bad patch, but they are still our best/Only option. Where is obita?
Basingstoke Royal

Got to say I thought Mills had a cracker - great run and shot in the first half - was unlucky not to break our jinx on first half goals. Unless I'm much mistaken the booing was for a set piece by McAnuff - in some ways deserved, his delivery was shocking today in the main, however he was much improved when moved to the right....I've been a Kebe fan for a while, but starting to wish we'd get shot of him sooner rather than later, not sure that HRK is the answer though - Obita?

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Noel Hunt came off the bench to secure three points for the Royals and end Birmingham's six-game unbeaten streak. The Irishman converted Jobi McAnuff's cross at the front post with his first touch of the game on 75 minutes. Moments earlier, Reading defender Alex Pearce almost diverted the ball into his own net, the ball hitting the post. But Hunt made an instant impact off the bench to end a run of three draws at the Madejski and inflict a first league loss on the Blues since September. In a lively and entertaining contest, both goalkeepers were in sensational form. A first half filled with chances and half-chances saw Myhill deny Kaspars Gorkss and Joseph Mills, while Adam Federici in the hosts' goal continuously frustrated Birmingham striker Chris Wood. After half-time Reading winger McAnuff was superbly foiled by Myhill before Hunt popped up to steal all three points for the home side. Hunt, who had only been on the pitch a matter of seconds a substitute for Simon Church, tapped McAnuff's cross home at the near post. It was the first goal Birmingham had conceded for exactly 500 minutes, and it left Reading with 15 more to hold on. And that is exactly what they did.
BBC Sport