Firstly, whoever decided to play a full programme of league fixtures on deadline day... we need to have words. How fans were supposed to concentrate on game and their Twitter feed at the same time is anyone's guess. I'm glad we've got Brian Tevreden so at least Jaap Stam could fully concentrate on the game. Also I couldn't go through the report without a shout out to my fellow STAR board member Jacob South Klein - I'm reliably informed he was given some bush(watch) tucker by a friend of mine
The omens weren't in our favour heading into this one. No Tuesday night away league wins since 2014, no wins over Birmingham in five and Gianfranco Zola still searching for his first win.
What could go wrong?
The wet and windy conditions weren't going help either team and it was never going to be a pretty contest. Neither side really got going in the first-half. It felt like someone needed to take charge and just put their foot through the ball when in sight of the goal. Danny Williams, Roy Beerens, John Swift and Garath McCleary were the only ones practising shooting in the warm up but it took Kelly's magic to produce an effort which bounced off the crossbar. As usual Reading were masters of their own problems. Far too many times they gave the ball away in dangerous areas but fortunately Birmingham showed all the signs of a team out of form and couldn't capitalise.
As a goalkeeper myself I'm a big fan of Ali Al-Habsi, however his ability to send the ball down the pitch is questionable. It seems that under pressure he usually makes a quick and decisive choice but goal-kicks where he has plenty of time seem to be a problem. Several, especially on his right, ended up in the crowd last night. However when he was needed the most he still made the saves.
A Moment Of Class
Second half started much the same - it was always going to take a bit of class to win it but which side could find it? Meite looked up for it when he came on and it proved the spark we needed. The goal came at the right time with great teamwork finished by Swift. Credit to little Liam Kelly - as the old Kevin Doyle song went "We all need a team of Liam Kelly's". I'm sure he loses an inch every game, as he runs himself into the ground and never stops trying.
After the goal we sat back and again let Birmingham show why they're a team struggling to get a victory under Zola.
Did we deserve the win? Possibly not, but all good teams grind out results so let's enjoy the three points. Sitting on the coach home hearing the news that we'd signed Grabban topped off a great evening, hopefully he's going to be the last piece of the puzzle.
Reading: Al Habsi; Gunter, Moore, Blackett, Obita; Evans, Kelly, Williams; Swift, McCleary (Meite '71), Beerens (Mendes '82)