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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
20:04 22nd April 2015

Late header edges it for City


  • Randolph denies Chalobah three times
  • Federici saves two late Gray efforts
  • Donaldson heads late winner for Blues
  • Karacan gets 90, Novakovich makes home bow
The Royals fell to a narrow defeat despite dominating possession against Birmingham City in a penultimate home match which lacked much sparkle.

Clayton Donaldson headed home unmarked with only seven minutes left on the clock, moments after Adam Federici had produced a stunning low save to tip Demarai Gray's drive wide.

But Darren Randolph had been the busier of the keepers throughout the evening, saving three powerful efforts from Nathaniel Chalobah as well as pushing a Jack Stacey effort wide late on.

Reading were assured of safety with Millwall's defeat to Blackburn the previous evening, but defeat meant the Royals remained in 19th.



Reading: Federici, Gunter, Obita, Hector, Cooper,Chalobah, Ake, Karacan (c), McCleary (Appiah 63), Blackman (Novakovich 81), Mackie (Stacey 62).
Subs: Andersen, Kelly, Norwood, Akpan.

Yellow: Obita

Birmingham City: Randolph, Grounds, Spector, Morrison, Caddis (Dyer 62), Gleeson, Kiernan, Tesche, Fabbrini (Shinnie 34), Thomas (Gray 77),Donaldson.
Subs: Doyle, Davis, Novak, Cotterill.

Att: 14,604 (685 away)



First Half

The opening ten minutes proved tentative from both sides and the first chance was a fleeting one for Wesley Thomas, who raced onto a deep ball over the top from the back but couldn't get a clean connection to trouble Adam Federici in the Royals goal.

Jake Cooper then collected a ball at the back, turned and scurried into midfield and played a lovely ball out to McCleary in space on the right. The winger cut inside but opted to shoot and scuffed an effort wide of the bottom right corner of the Birmingham goal.

Fabbrini then made progress down the left and edged into the box only to see his shot charged down and deflected wide for a corner which Federici claimed.

McCleary recycled a corner and delivered the ball into Jake Cooper at the far post, but the centre-back nodded it down just in front of Mackie and Rondolph gathered the ball in before the striker could get a toe to it.

With 20 minutes played, the ball fell to the feet of Jem Karacan inside the box. He twisted and turned looking for the space to shoot but instead teed up Mackie who dragged a right-footed effort just wide.

Five minutes later, the Royals came within a whisker of breaking the deadlock. A corner from the left was nodded down by Hector and Mackie's hooked effort from six yards out hit a Birmingham body on the line and bobbled away from goal. Reading recycled it into the feet of Mackie who, with his back to goal toed it out to Blackman who stabbed a first time effort at goal, but again it was charged down.

And in a flurry of chances, Garath McCleary cut inside his man moments later to unleash a powerful shot that Randolph did very well to parry.

Reading were in command, but Fabbrini was causing the Royals a few problems at the other end. He found space to arrow a low cross through the penalty area and Paul Caddis arriving at the far post skied an effort high over the bar when he should have hit the target.

Chalobah made Randolph work on the half hour mark, a low strike shovelled wide by the Blues keeper before Gunter's cross was headed back to the Royals midfielder who volleyed on target again only to see Randolph snaffle it up once more.

Fabbrini was replaced by Andrew Shinnie before Federici effortlessly leapt to his left to save a Jonathan Grounds header after Paul Caddis' corner had picked the defender out.

Second half

The first chance of the second half fell to Nathan Ake. McCleary cut in from the right and slid the ball into the loanee's feet, and Ake swivelled on the spot but saw his stabbed effort blocked by a Birmingham body.

Moments later Gunter was found on the overlap but his low cross couldn't be flicked goalwards by Mackie whose toed it wide at the near post. Then quick feet from Blackman almost opened the Blues up, only for his one-two with Chalobah to slightly go astray as he looked to an opening to shoot.

Jack Stacey and Kwesi Appiah were introduced and the pair combined to win a corner immediately. But Birmingham were mopping up all the pressure that came their way.

Appiah then burst through the Birmingham line but with the use of a hand according to referee Lee Mason who pulled the play back for a free kick as the substitute shot at goal.

Reading had a penalty appeal turned down as Blackman was barged in the back in looking to get on the end of a Karacan cross into the box.

Blackman tried something intricate again, looking for another neat one-two inside the box and this time he got a shot away only for it to cannon into a City man.

Then Chalobah tried the more direct route, shooting at goal from 25 yards out and forcing Randolph into a fantastic save high to his right. Stacey then took aim, and Randolph again scooped the ball wide of the target and time was running out on the Royals.

Ake arrowed an effort inches over the bar with 15 minutes of the match remaining, but Adam Federici had to be alert to save well from sub Demarai Gray with his legs.

Stacey weighted a lovely pass into the path of McCleary, but the winger couldn't find the angle to shoot and after the ball was worked out to Stacey, his firm cross was just too far in front of the diving head of Blackman at the far post.

Federici pulled off a wonderful fingertip save low to his right to deny Gray with eight minutes left on the clock, but he could do nothing to prevent Donaldson heading home unmarked at the near post when a late cross came into the box.

Federici saved one on one from Donaldson in injury time after the City striker had scurried clear of Hector - and that was the last action of the game.