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16:56 6th November 2011

Report: Noel wins it with late goal

Reading 1 (Hunt 74)
Birmingham 0

A late goal from sub Noel Hunt gave Reading all three points against an in-form Birmingham side this Sunday afternoon.

Hunt came off the bench to turn home Jobi McAnuff's cross, and thereby ended City's nine-game unbeaten run, as well as their sequence of 500 League minutes without conceding a League goal.

Reading had come close to scoring just moments earlier when McAnuff was denied by Boaz Myhill, while Alex Pearce had hit his own post and City's Chris Wood spurned the rebound.

Adam Federici had made a number of good saves to deny Wood, but Myhill had also pulled off some good stops, particularly when denying a long-ranger from Joseph Mills and a Kaspars Gorkss header.

We saw the game out very well, and the final whistle was a welcome sound as we earned a very valuable three points.

Reading: Federici; Cummings, Mills, Gorkss, Pearce; Karacan, Leigertwood, Kebe (Robson-Kanu 69), McAnuff (c); Church (Hunt 74), Le Fondre
Subs: Andersen, Harte, Manset

Birmingham: Myhill; Carr (c), Ridgewell, Caldwell, Davies; Fahey, Spector, Burke, Elliott (Redmond 82); King (Zigic 82), Wood
Subs: Doyle, Murphy, N'Daw
Booked: Spector (foul 49), Davies (foul 68)

Attendance: 18,361 (1,297 away)

Ref: M Halsey

Starting XI team news:
The Royals made two changes to their team - Jimmy Kebe and Simon Church were both back in the starting XI in place of Hal Robson-Kanu and Mathieu Manset. Mikkel Andersen was on the bench as Alex McCarthy joined Leeds on loan and played for them against Leicester today.

Minute's silence:
The game was preceded by an impeccable minute's silence in honour of those servicemen and women who gave themselves for queen and country, while both teams wore shirts with Poppy logos added to the front. Reading's will be auctioned off soon, details to follow on the official website.

First half:
Reading looked to get an early breakthrough with a good header from Kaspars Gorkss, but visiting 'keeper Boaz Myhill was equal to it and tipped over the bar on the stretch. The same player then got on the end of a fifth minute Jobi McAnuff free kick and we were desperately close to scoring but somehow City cleared.

With 11 minutes on the clock City's Chris Wood hit a very good effort from the edge of the box, but Adam Federici pulled off a good save to tip it to safety. From the corner Jimmy Kebe broke well but City got enough defenders back in position, then Alex Pearce got in a great block in our box - it was a lively first 15 minutes.

Wood tried his luck midway through the half after turning away from Gorkss, and Federici was able to smother his effort at the second attempt.

Just before the half hour Federici made another save, this time a real cracker to keep out Wood's low header from an excellent Marlon King cross. Wood should have done better from the resulting corner but headed over from eight yards out.

Joseph Mills' excellent foray forward and 25-yard shot then caused Boaz Myhill a problem in the City goal but he saved well - it was a cracking strike on the right foot from our full back.

Five minutes before the break skipper McAnuff was very close with a header from a hanging Kebe cross but it arrowed agonisingly wide. It would have been a nice goal after good team play down the right involving Shaun Cummings, Simon Church and then Kebe. It proved to be the last action of the half.

Second half:
There were no chances in the first moments of the second period, but City's Jonathan Spector picked up an early booking for a foul on Adam Le Fondre.

The quiet nature of the game continued beyond the hour mark, and Church then got a header on Mills' good cross but a tough chance went wide. Down the other end Federici continued to be in good form when required to deal with crosses into the box.

Midway through the period Chris Burke hit a good effort that Federici saw over the bar, and Royals boss Brian McDermott looked for a way past the City defence by bringing Hal Robson-Kanu on for Kebe, McAnuff switching to the right.

The skipper McAnuff then had a great chance with 20 minutes to go, creating a one-on-one opportunity by stealing possession and going in on goal, only for Myhill to save. It was a good stop, but McAnuff was devastated not to have capitalised.

City were then very close to breaking the deadlock as Alex Pearce headed a cross against his own post, and Wood lashed the rebound over.

As the game entered its 75th minute, City had gone 500 minutes without conceding - but that record was soon to end. McAnuff got in a good low cross from the right, and sub Noel Hunt turned home - with one of his very first touches.

Into injury time a low McAnuff cross nearly produced a second, then Wood smashed miles over but had handled anyway.

So that concluded an important win for Brian McDermott's side, it was one of those tight games that happen so often in the Championship - and this time we ensured it went our way.
    Data provided by Press Association