Full time, Birmingham City 2-1 Reading
It’s all over at St Andrews, and Reading have lost on the road again. Yakou Meite’s late strike wasn’t enough to muster a comeback, so the Royals head back to Berkshire looking anxiously at the bottom three.
It had been a good first half performance, but we saw the opposite after the break. In the second half, Reading struggled to get up the pitch, made silly errors and were punished by an average but hardly spectacular Birmingham City side.
On to Swansea at the weekend.
Goal for Reading! (90m)
The ball is played over the top for Yakou Meite who guides the ball past the ‘keeper to halve the deficit.
Great cross from Yiadom on the right, and Meite’s downward header is saved by Camp. The Frenchman just needed to guide his header into the corner.
Reading’s final sub (78m)
John Swift replaced by Sone Aluko in a random throw of the dice.
Reading have a shot! (77m)
Baldock sends a shot goalwards but it’s easily saved. Reading have barely threatened Birmingham’s defensive third this half.
2-0 Birmingham City (69m)
Adams’ cross is met by Lukas Jutkiewicz who heads home.
Ball flashed across the Birmingham goal, deflected out for a corner which comes to nothing.
Poor second half from Reading so far (67m)
Reading haven’t got forward as well as in the first half, struggling to create anything. At the back they’ve been sloppier.
Double sub (62m)
Baldock and McCleary on for Sims and Bodvarsson.
Moore passes the ball to Blackett who loses it, Brum flash a cross across the face of the goal but it’s not quite turned home.
Jaakkola save (51m)
Birmingham have started this half well and almost had a second. Adams’ cross was cut back to Jota but his shot is saved by the Reading keeper.
1-0 Birmingham City (49m)
The home side had a corner from nothing when Kelly passed the ball straight out, and Gardner converts the resulting set piece.
HALF TIME: Birmingham City 0-0 Reading
A fairly even match with few good chances at either end. Reading were under a bit of pressure in the opening stages but grew into the match, forcing some saves out of a nervy-looking Lee Camp in the Birmingham City goal. The home side have had their best openings on the counter, but haven’t been able to take advantage.
Bodvarsson has been quiet up front on his return from injury - we’re getting more joy out of Kelly, Swift and Meite. At the back there have been a few errors from Yiadom, Swift and Blackett, but nothing too disastrous. Bacuna, Ilori and Moore need to be a bit quicker in playing out from the back.
Considering Birmingham City’s recent form a 0-0 draw wouldn’t be too bad, but Reading have edged the match performance-wise so far and should be able to nick the result if they keep this display up.
Birmingham City sub (43m)
Connor Mahoney on for Jacques Maghoma. The latter was crunched by Swift in a challenge not long ago.
Swift free-kick saved (29m)
The midfielder forces a save out of Camp who parries the ball around the post for a corner which comes to nothing, but Sims eventually wins another corner.
The momentum shifts (26m)
After Birmingham edged the opening stages, Reading have grown into the game and are getting forward better now.
Kelly hits one from range but the goalie’s save is ham-fisted and the ball goes out for a corner. Nothing comes of it.
A short time later Meite doesn’t make the most of a close-range shot before Blackett brings a save from range.
Yellow card for Yiadom
Reading pass the ball around the back but Yiadom is caught in possession before bringing down a Blues player.
Reading break through Bodvarsson and Kelly, Swift plays in Meite but the Frenchman’s eventual shot from a tight angle is saved. Our best chance so far.
Open match so far
No clear-cut chances so far. Birmingham with more of the ball but Reading holding firm, typically going long to Dadi when under pressure.
Brum almost with a chance to open the scoring after a Moore error, but Reading clear their lines.
Come on Urz!
How to use iFollow
If you’re not off to the game tonight, you can use the new(ish) iFollow service to stream the match from the comfort of your own home.
Should you not know how to do that, we wrote up a guide a little while back for the Blackburn game.
George Legg is Reading’s number three tonight, so will be on the bench if something happens to Sam Walker. Vito Mannone is presumably still injured, and Luke Southwood should start for the under-23s tomorrow night.
George Legg is the third-choice goalkeeper for #readingfc this evening— Jonathan Low (@jonathanl50) October 23, 2018
How does it work tactically?
It’ll be a big night for Leandro Bacuna who’s presumably been tasked with protecting the back four. Considering Meyler has been left out completely, that’s a big endorsement of Bacuna’s defensive abilities by Clement.
The inclusion of Meite and Bodvarsson means Reading won’t lack for an aerial presence up front, and that double threat worked well away to Brentford a few weeks back.
With the left-footed Sims coming in for McCleary, expect to see him cutting inside and Andy Yiadom overlapping on the right wing.
More on that team
Those attacking changes are probably fair enough from Clement - two players who have done well this season (Sims and Bodvarsson) replacing McCleary and Baldock who, despite working hard on Saturday, didn’t have a huge impact on the match. Both the incomings will be desperate to impress to stay in the team, while it’s also good news for Meite that he’s staying in.
Otherwise the defence and midfield is the same, which is deserved after a top rearguard action against Millwall.
Modou Barrow, David Meyler, Vito Mannone, Paul McShane and Marc McNulty are amongst those not included in the team at all, but we’ll need to wait until after the match to know who’s injured and who’s just been left out - as Barrow was at the weekend.
Team news out: two changes
Paul Clement has made two alterations to Saturday’s team, bringing in Sims and Bodvarsson for Baldock and McCleary.
Jaakkola; Yiadom, Ilori, Moore, Blackett; Kelly, Bacuna, Swift; Sims, Bodvarsson; Meite.
Subs: Walker, Gunter, O’Shea, Rinomhota, McCleary, Aluko, Baldock.
Team news out soon
With just a few minutes to go until Paul Clement names his side, we’re assuming it’ll be an unchanged team from the one that beat Millwall 3-1 at the weekend.
That could mean Sam Baldock and Yakou Meite continuing out wide and up front respectively, with Anssi Jaakkola in goal.
A tough away trip for Reading
The Royals go to a Birmingham City side in good form of late - in fact, they’ve not lost in their previous nine league matches or any of their last 11 home Championship games.