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Match Reports

Reading vs Birmingham

13 September 2016

Royals stay unbeaten at home after City stalemate

A game of few clear cut chances ended in a stalemate at the Madejski this evening, with the Royals unable to break down a stubborn Birmingham City side who collected their third successive clean sheet.

Ali Al Habsi had to save sharply when Jutkiewicz deftly flicked a low cross towards goal at the near post early on, while Williams came closest for the Royals when he forced Adam Legzdins into a good stop low to his right. But the game was destined to remain goalless as City sat back and Reading battled in vain to find a way through to goal.

Jaap Stam made two changes to the side that beat Ipswich on Friday night, bringing in Jordan Obita for Tyler Blackett at left-back, whilst also introducing Stephen Quinn for his first league start of the season. A late injury to Joey van den Berg forced a late change to the starting eleven, with George Evans stepping in to replace the Dutch midfielder.

Birmingham City also made two alterations to their winning side from the weekend, and also had to make a late third alteration too - changing goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak for Adam Legzdins at the last moment.

The first chance of the game came Birmingham's way. A foul from Paul McShane on Che Adams gifted City a free kick on the left side of the box and a low fizzed cross from Cotterill was turned goalwards at the near post by Jutkiewicz and it needed a fine reaction stop from Al Habsi to block the ball on the line, Chris Gunter hacking clear eventually.

Beerens got in behind the Blues' defence moments later and his cross was cleared only as far as Quinn, who missed his kick as he attempted a very difficult hook from 20 yards out.

Obita and Al Habsi failed to clear an inswinging corner after a quarter of an hour but thankfully Lukas Jutkiewicz lofted the loose ball onto the roof of the net from 10 yards out.

The game was scrappy, but a lovely passing move ended with Kermorgant sliding a well weighted ball between the City defenders for Beerens to run onto - only for Legzdins to come off his line and smother at the winger's feet before he could get a toe to it.

The hosts were starting to capitalise on their possession and Williams tested the goalkeeper with a sweetly-struck right footed drive from 25 yards out, Legzdins saving low to his right.

Next Kermorgant tried his luck from range but a deflection saw the ball spin wide of the right post and behind for a corner. Then Beerens had a drive charged down, before Al Habsi had to be alert to stop an Adams effort on the break at the other end.

City came close from a Cotterill corner, Spector rising high but only able to glance wide of the target. And McCleary's floated cross found Kermorgant in the Birmingham box, but although his effort was on target, it was easy for Legzdins to pluck it out of the night sky.

Al Habsi made sure a Jutkiewicz effort wasn't allowed to squirm in at his near post, turning the striker's effort behind for a corner with five minutes of the first half remaining. But the game would stay goalless at the break.

Half-time: Reading 0-0 Birmingham City

McCleary arrowed over from a tight angle at the start of the second period, but Evans had to produce an excellent defensive header to clear the danger from a Cotterill corner as City started the half well.

Al Habsi did well to keep a deflected Kieftenbeld effort out soon after and Jutkiewicz was offside as looked to pounce on the rebound.

But Williams won successive corners with efforts that deflected behind as Reading began to ramp up the pressure on their opponents again. And a McCleary delivery from the right was dinked onto the head of McShane, only for the skipper's downward effort to be cleared by the shins of a City player inside the six yard box.

A jinking run from McCleary almost unlocked a resolute Birmingham back line, winning a corner with a pull back that was intercepted. And McCleary again caused problems down the right, chipping a ball to the far post where Moore was inches away from getting his head to it.

Swift, Harriott and Mendes were all introduced, while City brought on Donaldson, Maghoma and Fabbrini - but as three minutes of injury time ticked away there was to be no last gasp winner on this occasion and Reading had to settle for a point and the extension of an unbeaten record at home this season.

Full-time: Reading 0-0 Birmingham City

Reading: Al Habsi, Gunter, Obita, McShane (c), Moore, Evans, Quinn (Swift 72), Williams, McCleary (Harriott 82), Beerens (Mendes 86), Kermorgant.
Unused subs: Jaakkola, Watson, Blackett.

Birmingham City: Legzdins, Grounds, Shotton, Spector, Morrison (c), Adams (Fabbrini 81), Tesche (Maghoma 68), Kieftenbeld, Davis, Cotterill, Jutkiewicz (Donaldson 76).
Unused subs: Trueman, Robinson, Stewart, Brown.

Att: 14,062 (1,186 away)

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