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Match Reports

Report | In-form Blues hold on for home win

Yakou Meite's late strike was too little too late as Garry Monk's men went ten unbeaten at St Andrew's this evening

23 October 2018

The Royals came away with nothing to show for their efforts at St Andrew's as Birmingham City edged a close encounter to claim a home win with two second half goals proving the difference.

  • First half save from Lee Camp denies Yakou Meite the opening goal
  • Camp spills a Liam Kelly shot from range against his post and wide
  • Gary Gardner sidefoots home from a knockdown from a corner to make it 1-0
  • Jutkiewicz makes it 2-0 with a well-placed header with 20 minutes remaining
  • Meite pulls one back in the 90th minute as the Royals finish strongly

Paul Clement brought Jon Dadi Böðvarsson back into the team after injury, while Josh Sims earned his second league start of the season and John O'Shea returned to the squad to take a place on the substitutes' bench.

With three minutes gone, Leandro Bacuna volleyed wide of his own net to concede a corner in defending a dangerous Che Adams cross from the right and a speculative hooked effort from Jaques Maghoma soon after spun harmlessly wide.

The first save though came at the other end and it was a good one. Liam Kelly led a counter attack, found John Swift in the centre circle who slid the ball into the feet of Meite. Running at Morrison, he found a yard to slam a left-footed shot in at Lee Camp's near post but the keeper parried it away well.

The post saved Camp's blushes aftwer 20 minutes. Liam Kelly let rip with a right-footed effort from range and Camp was right behind it but the ball slipped through his gloves and glanced the right post on its way behind for a corner.

Blackett tested Camp's handling moments later with a left-footed hook that the Blues stopper was down well to smother comfortably. Next, Yiadom darted onto a ball from Kelly down the right and his early cross was cut out by a Birmingham leg before it could reach Bodvarsson at the near post.

Adams then had an effort from 22 yards out, drilling low to Jaakkola's right, but the Finn was down well to save. And Tiago Ilori produced a perfectly timed sliding tackle to dispossess the same man just before the half hour mark; Adams had been released by Jutkiewicz but Ilori reacted quickly before the striker could take aim.

Camp palmed a Swift free kick wide of his woodwork, then Sims raced onto a nice throughball from Swift to win a corner. But Swift lost the ball in midfield to allow Birmingham to break from that cleared corner and had to back track and make amends with a firm but timely tackle on Maghoma inside the box.

Jota's tantalising cross was just too far in front of Jutkiewicz with seven minutes of the first half remaining. And at the other end, Swift's dinked ball into Bodvarsson couldn't stick to the Icelander and City cleared.

Three minutes of added time were signalled as Kelly broke inside from the left flank and fed Swift, but his shot was charged down and deflected behind for a corner which came to nothing.

Half-time: Birmingham City 0-0 Reading

The second half began with a goal and the hosts took the lead through an opportunistic stab home from Gary Gardner. A poorly conceded corner was swept into the box and met by a towering Morrison header which dropped to the feet of Gardner who instinctively sidefooted past a helpless Jaakkola on the half volley.

It was nearly 2-0 when Adams got free down the left and cut a low cross back to Jota who placed a shot goalwards, only for Jaakkola and a mix of Reading defenders to block it and hack the ball clear.

The Royals struggled to refind their flow and Birmingham were looking to take advantage - a cross from the right whistled across the Royals' box and appeals from the home fans for a penalty, as bodies launched themslevs at the ball, were waved away.

Garath McCleary and Sam Baldock were introduced in a double change just after the hour and McCleary produced a sublime early touch to beat his man and edge towards the box only to be barged over before he could pull the trigger.

The Royals so nearly levelled midway through the second half. Bodvarsson retrieved the ball on the right and delayed a cut back into the middle. Kieftenbeld stretched to intercept it inside the six yard box but stabbed it goalwards - only for it to luckily strike Camp and drop inches wide and behind for a corner.

City made it 2-0 moments later though. A floated cross from the right dropped to Jutkiewicz who placed a good header back across Jaakkola's goal and beyond the Finn to double the hosts' advantage.

A quarter of an hour remaining and some slick passing allowed Kelly the space to geta  shot away, but it lacked the power to trouble Camp. Jaakkola was forced into action at the other end though as Adams broke in behind and picked out a pass to Mahoney who took a touch only to be denied by the Finn who stood tall to parry his shot to relative safety.

Jaakkola was at full stretch and down at Jutkiewicz's feet to get a touch to the ball just ahead of the striker and concede a corner rather than the penalty home fans were calling for.

The Royals were still trying to find a lifeline and Yiadom whipped in a brilliant cross from the right that Meite met - but Camp was down well to save his downward header.

Meite had half a shout for a penalty with a couple of minutes left, collecting a pass from Kelly in the box and rolling his man, only for the referee to dismiss his appeals as he went to ground.

But Reading were finishing the game stronger and Meite did pull one back when he got in behind the Birmingham back line and, after a superb first touch, cleverly dinked a bouncing ball past Camp from a narrowing angle.

Time was Reading's enemy though and City saw out four minutes of injury time to hold onto victory and all three points.

Full-time: Birmingham City 2-1 Reading

Birmingham City: Camp, Morrison (c), Colin, Kieftenbeld, Maghoma (Mahoney 43), Pedersen, Dean, Gardner, Adams, Jota (Solomon-Otabor 79), Jutkiewicz (Lubala 87).
Unused subs: Trueman, Harding, Lakin, Roberts.
Goals: Gardner 49, Jutkiewicz 70

Reading: Jaakkola, Yiadom, Blackett, Moore (c), Ilori, Bacuna, Kelly, Swift (Aluko 79), Sims (McCleary 63), Méïté, Böðvarsson (Baldock 63).
Unused subs: Walker, Gunter, O'Shea, Rinomhota.
Goals: Meite 90
Yellow: Yiadom, Swift

Attendance: 22,126 (503 away)

Referee: Mr T Harrington

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