MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

Reading: Noel Hunt (13 mins), Doyle (66 mins), Cisse (82 mins).
Birmingham: Phillips (60 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 19,695

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 Wolves 24 56 +24
2 READING 24 49 +29
4 Birmingham 24 47 +10
Reading: Federici, Rosenior, Duberry, Ingimarsson, Armstrong, Henry (Gunnarsson 75), Cisse, Harper, Stephen Hunt, Doyle, Noel Hunt (Long 27). Subs Not Used: Andersen, Matejovsky, Bikey.
Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Parnaby, Jaidi, Queudrue, Murphy, Larsson (Bent 75), Carsley, Quashie, McFadden (Owusu-Abeyie 70), Phillips, Jerome. Subs Not Used: Doyle, Hunt, Agustien.
Reading: Rosenior, Federici.
Birmingham: Queudrue.
Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).
Reading will be second in the table at Christmas after a crucial win over Birmingham City at St. Andrews. The battle of second and third placed teams saw Reading dominate the fixture and chalk up a convincing win to make it five straight league victories, and move into the top two for the first time this season. The Royals were impressive throughout and the home side only ever looked likely to get something from the game with a goal against the run of play on the hour to pull level at 1-1. Before that Reading had looked comfortable after taking the lead on thirteen minutes. After winning a free-kick on the edge of the box a collection of Reading players lined up to take the kick before Noel Hunt's effort cleared the defensive wall and swung into the side of the net. Hunt was forced to leave the pitch before half an hour was played after a knock to the head but it did little to unsettle the Royals.

We expected Birmingham to bounce back from a disappointing half for them, but the fightback failed to appear after the break. It look a lack of concentration from Cisse in midfield on the hour to allow City to break quickly with the ball. Phillips' powerful run ended with a scorching long range shot that was perfectly positioned out of Federici's reach. It was a shame for Federici, who had an excellent performance despite City's lack of attacking football; that deserved another clean sheet. Federici's distribution was amazing and was a key factor in Reading's forward play. City were level for just six minutes until Stephen Hunt's free kick saw Doyle connect in the middle of the box, putting the ball off the top of his head and into the back of the net. The home side's resistance was over. Doyle turned supplier with eight minutes left to play, beating two men on the right wing before delivering a perfect cross for Cisse to head home and seal the victory.


Got an opinion? E-Mail us at
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages

Birmingham City, Villa’s neighbours, got a good view of Doyle’s talents at St Andrew’s on Saturday. He glanced in Reading’s second goal with a clever flick of his head, and set up the third for Kalifa Cissé with a far-post cross from an awkward position near the corner flag. It enabled Reading to secure their fifth successive victory – and eighth in 10 matches – and leapfrog Birmingham into second place. Birmingham had been given some cause for optimism when Kevin Phillips equalised with a 20-yard drive, but they barely merited any reward for a disjointed display. Reading, often slick and composed, had gone ahead when Noel Hunt, despite the lingering effects of a clash of heads with Franck Queudrue, curled in a free kick. Hunt soon left the pitch. “I couldn’t focus properly,” he said. “At one point, I couldn’t see the ball.”
The Times

Occasionally Reading dared to dance. Kevin Doyle led the line with intelligent energy and found late rewards. Birmingham were always the John Sergeant, loosely come thumping. If this is the next best thing to the Premier League, there is a case for no promotion. It was fitting that the opening goal, a free-kick, was scored by a man, Noel Hunt, who did not know whether it was Christmas or Easter. "He got a hell of a whack on the head [from an aerial challenge that left Franck Queudrue turbaned]," said Coppell. "When you get one like that you see stars and lights." Minutes later Hunt was substituted. In October he was knocked out scoring against Burnley. He remembers his other nine goals this season.
The Guardian