Birmingham City heaped more frustration on an unfortunate Royals side by taking all three points from a blustery Madejski Stadium this evening.
- Maghoma smashes home first half opener despite Reading's dominance
- In-form Stockdale denies Barrow, Gunter, Kermorgant and Clement
- Gallagher scores City's second on the counter attack to kill the game
- Kermorgant heads off his own goalline and grazes the crossbar with a deflected volley at the other.
Jaap Stam made three changes to the side that drew at Oakwell in the last game of 2017, starting Pelle Clement, Sone Aluko and Leandro Bacuna against the Blues. Liam Kelly was fit enough to return to the bench too, while Dave Edwards missed out.
Reading began the game well, with Aluko beating his man down the right and fizzing in a low cross that skidded beyond the slide of Kermorgant and off the outstretcheed leg of Barrow at the back post to fly behind for a goal kick.
Five minutes gone and Swift played a lovely throughball for Barrow who, scurrying into the box downt he left side, drove low and hard towards the near post where David Stockdale had to save well with his legs. The resultant corner was delivered into the same post, but Kermorgant couldn't direct his glancing header on target.
John Swift did well to block a thunderous Craig Gardner effort from 22 yards out, but Reading were looking dangerous in the final third and a lovely crossfield ball from Bacuna picked out Chris Gunter who forced a fine one handed save from Stockdale when he rifled an effort towards the top right corner.
Stockdale was in the thick of it again soon after as he shovelled clear an Aluko effort and palmed it behind at the second attempt as Barrow looked to pounce on the loose ball.
But it was the Blues who broke the deadlock. A set piece was whipped in and the ball dropped loose inside the Reading box. Jacques Maghoma was first to react, smashing the ball high into the Reading net from 12 yards out.
Mannone had to make his first save of the night when Gallagher was played in behind the Reading back line, the Italian out quick to save at the forward's feet. At the other end Jonathan Grounds had to touch the ball behind for a corner after Barrow had worked the space to float a fine cross into the Birmingham box.
Clement then got in down the right, but his pull back was deflected clear of Aluko who was looking to connect first time with the low centre before he could pull the trigger.
And Stockdale saved again after Bacuna's sweeping cross was nodded back by Gunter for Aluko to twist onto a stab an effort goalwards.
Reading were showing plenty of attacking urgency and somehow Marc Roberts turned the ball past his own keeper but also wide of his own post when under pressure from McShane inside the six yard box.
Barrow had a shot blocked at one end, then Boga saw his charged down at the other as two minutes of injury time elapsed and Steve Cotterill's side headed down the tunnel with a slender lead.
Half time | Reading 0-1 Birmingham City
The opening ten minutes of the second half saw both sides strive to score a key goal in the context of the game. Harlee Dean headed just wide of the top left corner for the visitors, while Barrow was set clear by Aluko moments later only for the offside flag to go up against the Royals' top scorer.
Kermorgant hooked an overhead effort inches wide on the hour after good work from Barrow had seen Gunter nod his cross down for the Reading striker to conjure an effort on goal.
And yet City scored the second goal soon after. Breaking on the Royals, the ball was fed into the feet of Gallagher who had time and space to pick his spot, slotting past Mannone to make it 2-0 with 26 minutes remaining.
Every time Reading did find a route to goal, they also found Stockdale in fine form. He was down low to his right to save a Clement strike with one hand as the Royals looked for a lifeline.
Gallagher arrowed a speculative effort over and City were defending their lead well, with men behind the ball. Time was ticking away fast and it took a good block from Moore to deny Boga another counter attack effort on target.
Kermorgant had to head a follow-up header off his own goalline with ten minutes remaining, while Stockdale gathered an aerial ball under pressure from Barrow inside his six yard box.
McCleary stood a cross up for Kermorgant in the middle but Dean did enough to head the ball clear of danger. And Reading kept pressing for a goal to the death.
But it just would not go in - Kermorgant volleyed an effort at goal through a crowded box and it deflected off a body or two, over Stockdale and against the crossbar before skimming behind for a goal kick.
Full time | Reading 0-2 Birmingham City
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Bacuna, McShane (c), Moore, Van den Berg (Blackett HT), Clement (Kelly 73), Swift , Aluko (McCleary 66), Barrow, Kermorgant.
Subs: Jaakkola, Ilori, Evans, Bodvarsson.
Birmingham City: Stockdale, Grounds, Roberts, Colin, Kieftenbeld, Gardner (N'Doye 86), Dean (c), Gallagher (Adams 90), Maghoma (Nsue 72), Boga, Davis.
Subs: Jutkiewicz, Jota, Morrison, Trueman.
Goals: Maghoma 24, Gallagher 64
Referee: Mr S Hooper
Att: 14,491 (1,135 away)