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08:19 22nd March 2014

Jobi brace seals big win

Birmingham City 1 (Caddis 43 pen)   
Reading 2 (McAnuff 40, 82)

London buses. You wait for one and then two come along at the same time. Jobi McAnuff ended his goal drought with a match-winning brace at Birmingham City this afternoon to the near thousand-strong away support's delight. 

Jobi collected Le Fondre's flick on from a Drenthe cross, controlled the ball inside the last defender and drilled home the opening goal five minutes before half-time. 

But Lee Clark's men levelled only three minutes later, Paul Caddis stroking home from the spot after Kaspars Gorkss had tripped Callum Reilly in the penalty box. 

A lively second half present chances for both sides, Macheda heading against the crossbar from close range and Pogrebnyak steering over a fleeting chance after Randolph had saved from McAnuff and Gunter in quick succession. 

And with nine minutes remaining, Gunter powered down the right and centred the ball, McAnuff burst ahead of the right-back and slid in to guide it home at the far post and give the Royals all three points. 

A wonderful save from McCarthy denied Nikola Zigic in injury time, but Reading ran out deserving victors, regaining their play-off place with another superb away win. 

Birmingham: Randolph, Caddis, Packwood, Robinson, Reilly, Spector, Huws (Blackett 28), Burke, Novak (Ibe HT), Shinnie (Zigic 76), Macheda.  
Subs: Doyle, Lee, Rusnak, Lovenkrands.   

Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Obita, Gorkss, Pearce, Akpan, Guthrie,  Drenthe (Blackman 86), McAnuff (c), Robson-Kanu (McCleary 54), Le Fondre (Pogrebnyak 54).  
Subs: Federici, Kelly, Hector, J Taylor.  

Referee: Mr D Whitestone 
Att: 13,409 (983 away)

First half

Spector won a free kick 30 yards out which was floated into the Royals box. Lee Novak tried a speculative overhead that sailed high over the crossbar without causing Alex McCarthy any concern in the Royals goal. 

At the other end, Akpan found McAnuff in plenty of space on the left, but his cross was too high for Le Fondre to be able to keep his header down and it ball looped over the Birmingham bar. 

After quarter of an hour Royston Drenthe won the ball in midfield and surged forward, but he could only drill a low left-footed effort wide of the bottom right corner. And he tried his luck from the other side, whistling an effort wide of the same post moments later. 

Birmingham were beginning to find some momentum and Kaspars Gorkss had to produce a good sliding block to deny Callum Reilly before McCarthy carefully watched a Macheda effort from range and palmed wide of his goalmouth. 

The deadlock was broken by Reading's skipper though. Drenthe did brilliantly to power past his man down the right and supply a cross from the corner flag that Le Fondre managed to flick on. It fell to McAnuff at the far post, who calmly dummied a shot to take it round a defender's block, and then rifled low into the bottom left corner. 1-0. 

A minute later, it was almost 2-0. McAnuff's break had ended with the ball falling to the feet of Hope Akpan, who leathered an effort from 30 yards out. It looked like it was on target but Le Fondre couldn't get out of the way of the midfielder's bullet and it deflected up and over the Birmingham bar. 

The Royals lead didn't last long tho;2ugh. Reilly was deemed to have been tripped by Gorkss inside a crowded Reading box and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Paul Caddis stepped up and stroked home into the bottom right corner to equalise. 

Second half:

In the opening minute of the second half, Drenthe scuttled onto a threaded ball from Robson-Kanu, but as he bore down on goal the linesman's flag was raised to signal a marginal offside decision. 

But McCarthy had to scramble across his line to claw a Macheda header around the post as City pressed for the lead, but Pogrebnyak came off the bench and his first touch found Drenthe down the right. The Dutchman crossed three times into the box, the first to cleared and the last sailing across the six yard box and behind for a goal kick. 

A City substitute Jordan Ibe was causing the Royals real problems down the left though and he bundled his way past two to get into the box only to see his pass across goal cleared by Obita. 

And again he weaved his way down the left and picked out a pass inside to Macheda whose drilled cross from the byline cannoned into a Reading body and fizzed just wide of the near post and behind for a corner.

From that corner, Macheda should have scored. A deep set piece was headed back across goal, over McCarthy and from only a couple of yards out, Macheda rose and planted a header against the crossbar. Reading scrapped it clear. 

A golden opportunity for the visitors next, on the break, Drenthe slid a lovely ball into Gunter who had raced in behind the back line, but instead of shooting he looked to square it and City cleared behind at the far post. 

The game had come to life and from that corner, Gorkss thundered a header against a City body and the ball almost dropped under the crossbar, Randolph turning it over for another corner. 

And then McCarthy was in action, parrying Chris Burke's powerful drive from the tightest of angles that looked like it might have squeezed in at the near post without the Royals' stopper's intervention. 

Gunter then won the ball from Ibe in a dangerous position and crossed to the far post where Obita, who had started the attack by brilliantly beating his man down the opposite flank, volleyed inches wide of the far post. 

Superb pressure from Pogrebnyak almost forced Will Packwood into a mistake from an up and under that Randolph eventually gathered. 

And then the Russian skied a fleeting chance over with the goal gaping. McAnuff's low drive hadn't been cleanly gathered by Randolph, Gunter's follow-up was parried by the floored keeper, but it ricocheted out to Pogrebnyak who couldn't keep his effort down, 10 yards out. 

With nine minutes left on the clock, Reading struck. Gunter bombed down the right and again centred the ball, but this time he picked out McAnuff who burst late into the box, slid in and steered the ball into the back of the net at the far post. 

In the last minute of normal time, Birmingham almost equalised. A cross from the right was nodded down by the towering Zigic and McCArthy produced an exceptional save, turning it round his post with a dive to his left. 

Three minutes of injury time were signalled and only a last ditch block denied a late drive from a City player, deflecting the ball over the crossbar. From the corner, City had the ball in the back of the net with a far post header, but the flag was up for the corner swerving out of play en route. 

And with Randolph's kick forward the final whistle sounded and the Royals had three more valuable points on the road thanks to their captain's brace.