MATCH REPORT: 2005/2006 Season

7 February 2006: FA CUP ROUND 4 REPLAY
Reading: Hunt (51 mins).
Birmingham: Forssell (30 mins), Gray (67 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 16,644

Birmingham face Stoke away
in round five.
Reading: Stack, Halls, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Makin, Oster, Sidwell, Gunnarsson, Hunt, Kitson, Long (Cox 68). Subs Not Used: Federici, Golbourne, Osano, Sinnott.
Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Melchiot, Bruce, Painter, Gray, Pennant, Clemence (Oji 90), Clapham, Birley (Sadler 59), Forssell, Jarosik. Subs Not Used: Vaesen, Alsop, Allen.
Reading: Gunnarsson
Birmingham: -
Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

Reading suffered a rare defeat - just their third of the season - as a heavily changed team made an FA Cup exit at Birmingham City. Coppell had made it clear that the FA Cup was an unwelcome distraction and stuck to his word by fielding his FA Cup line-up rather than putting out a first team and attempting to make progress in this competition. The home side were forced into a few changes but otherwise fielded a strong team, clearly looking for the win. Reading's reserve side put in a good first half performance and, despite being a goal behind at the break, had looked the better side. Birmingham had been very poor for the opening forty-five minutes but found their feet in the second half to finish the stronger team to secure the win.

Reading's superiority early on nearly saw Kitson put Reading ahead in the opening five mintues when a through ball saw Kitson run on towards goal with just the keeper to beat. As the keeper came off his line Kitson looked favourite but saw his shot roll just wide of the far post. The game became scrappy before City got a lucky break, against the run of play, just after the half hour. Forssell ran through and saw the ball bounce off Stack and then take a very luck bounce of Reading defender Halls to allow him to scramble the ball over the line. Reading came to life and immediately came forward with their best period of the game. Sidwell hit an excellent shot from outside the area that struck the foot of the Birmingham post before the rebound presented itself to Kitson once more. Kitson should have buried it but hit the ball straight at the keeper in the middle of the goal as an easy chance slipped away.

The better football had been coming from the Royals and after a quiet start to the second half we got the deserved equaliser when City failed to deal with a long ball over the top that bounced into the area. Hunt did very well to get between two defenders, head the ball down, and then turn before hammering the ball into the back of the net off the underside of the crossbar. At that moment Reading looked favourites to go on and win, but in reality it was our last real positive input to the game. City stepped up a gear and Reading faded out as we struggled to contain their attack. A City goal was always on the cards and it came on 67 minutes when the cross from the right found Halls out of position in the middle. City's Gray had a free header to put the home side 2-1 up and on their way to the next round. Cox replaced Long, but the other substitutes stayed on the bench and Reading were short on ideas as City looked more and more comfortable as time ran out. There could be no disputing the result in the end and Reading are now left to concentrate on promotion to the Premiership as Championship winners.



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