Royals wrap-up a 4-1 win over Birmingham to take the points in the Premier League CupThe Royals extended their lead at the top of Premier League Cup Group H on Monday afternoon with a resounding 4-1 win over Birmingham City at Adams Park.
The three points now take the U23s to ten points from four games in the group, putting them in a very strong position to proceed to the next round, with only a point needed in their final two games.
A brace from Adrija Novakovakich either side of a fine effort from Tyler Frost, was added to late-on by Sam Smith to seal the win.
Birmingham’s Reece Brown had levelled for the visitors after Novakovich put the Royals into an early lead, but Reading were just too much for their opposition, wearing them down with an impressive possession game that yielded more and more opportunities as the match wore-on.
Despite Reading grabbing the early goal, it was Birmingham that had the opening chance of the contest in High Wycombe, when Brown cut in from the left wing just outside the Reading box. His low stinging effort was well held by Southwood, but showed that Birmingham had arrived with an attacking intent.
The Royals seemed to be kicked into life by this early chance for the visiotr’s however, and not long after had the opening goal of the contest. With only six minutes on the clock Novakovich created an opening after some clever work on the right flank by Ramarni Medford Smith.
The full-back kept the ball in play well before finding Novakovich on the edge of the Birmingham area, and the American did the rest. Beating two men with some quick footwork, he opened up his body to slot a low finish home across the goal, past Connal Trueman.
Novakovich’s movement was causing the Birmingham defence all sorts of problems, and the forward opened-up the Blues’ back-line again just a few minutes later, when he moved away from Steve Seddon to run in-behind. His low cross seemed to have picked out Medford-Smith and Sam Smith in the centre, but Dan Scarr was just able to recover for the opposition, hacking the ball over his own crossbar after a fine block.
As the clock ticked on it seemed only a matter of time before the Royals would double their lead, enjoying the lion’s share of possession. It was Birmingham however who were next to strike, and Brown was the man who found the finish after some scrappy play in the Reading area.
A low cross in from the left was not cleared properly by the Reading back line, with the ball making its way to Brown. The forward reacted quickly and squirmed his low finish under the body of Southwood to level the scores against the run of play.
The Royals responded well and quickly had control of the game again as they looked for a way through the Birmingham defence. The breakthrough came just two minutes before the interval, with Frost supplying a divine curling finish into the top corner of the City net.
The forward made himself half a yard of space on the edge of the box before whipping the ball beyond Trueman to give Reading a deserved half-time lead.
Half-time: Reading 2-1 Birmingham City
The second-half saw Birmingham start with a higher tempo, and the visitors nearly had an equaliser ten minutes into the second period when Wes McDonald saw his deflected shot clawed out by an alert Luke Southwood. It seemed for an instant that the ricocheted had caught the Reading keeper off-guard, but he reacted brilliantly to dive to his near post and tip the effort out for a corner.
Reading responded well to the opposition threat, and went close to giving themselves a two goal cushion when Andy Rinomhota was played through by Ryan East. East’s pass was a wonderfully weighted ball over the top, but Rinomhota could only slice his effort wide after bringing the ball down well.
The second half saw a number of stoppages in play for injury, creating a strange flow to the game, but the Royals looked to have found the decisive goal when Novakovich swept home his second of the contest.
The forward cut in brilliantly from the left flank, before beating his man and picking out a precise finish to put the Royals well in control.
As the game moved into the final ten minutes Birmingham threw more and more players forward looking for a route back into the game. Five minutes from time Rob Dickie was denied by the post after meeting a Josh Barrett free kick with his head.
As the Blues pushed forward in added time Reading made them pay for their high-line, racing away in a swift counter attack. Smith collected the ball on the edge of the opposition area and feinted to shoot twice, before beating Trueman with an assured strike to wrap up the points for the Royals in a fine display at Adams Park.
Full-time: Reading 4-1 Birmingham City
Reading: Southwood, Howe, Medford-Smith (Andresson 90), East (Holsgrove 78), Dickie (c), Jules, Frost, Rinomhota, Smith, Barrett, Novakovich
Unused Subs: Tupper, Rollinson, House
Booking: Medford Smith 35'
Goals: Novakovich 6' 75' Frost 43' Smith 90'
Birmingham City: Trueman, Harding, Moseley, Baba, Scarr, Seddon, O'Keefe, Caddis, Arthur (McCoy 83'), Brown, McDonald
Unused Subs: Popa, Weaver, Hale, Lakin
Bookings: Baba 45'
Goals: Brown 25'