Reading FC Match Report: 2013/2014 Season - Championship
READING 2 BIRMINGHAM 0
Reading: D Guthrie (32), D Guthrie (75).
Danny Guthrie is rapidly emerging as the star player in a steadily improving Reading side. His two goals from free kicks capped another fine display in the centre of midfield and earned the Royals another three points. It was a solid rather than inspired performance against a mediocre City line up offering very little in terms of attacking threat. Reading created several very good chances and probably should have added to their total. McCarthy made a couple of saves but for a ‘keeper of his quality they were fairly comfortable.
The starting line up had a very balanced look about it. Two central strikers which complemented each other, two wide players eager to take players on, a midfield pairing offering stability and creativity, and a solid back four willing to build attacks from deep positions. With Karacan injured and Billy Sharp yet to settle in, this was probably Reading’s strongest starting eleven. Pogrebnyak, energised by his two goals last week had his best game in a Reading shirt. He won headers, held the ball up and laid it off with purpose. Unfortunately he was unable to add to his tally in the final minutes volleying over a difficult chance. He should however have opened the scoring early in the game when McCleary threaded a superb pass through the City defence. With time and space to spare he struck his shot at a very nice height for the unprotected Randolf to save. A low crisp drive into the corner of the net would have given the ‘keeper no chance. Brilliant control and acceleration took Gunther past the City back four and his teasing cross was deflected just over by a lunging City centre back. Le Fondre also got behind the City defence but Reading were unable to take advantage of the chaos it caused. Reading were attacking menacingly down both flanks. They had the luxury of being able to ping passes of great pace and varying heights out to Bridge and Robson-Kanu on the left in the knowledge they would be brought swiftly under control and put to good use.
Reading took the lead their dominance deserved after thirty-two minutes when Guthrie curled a free kick inside the far post eluding the lunging defenders and the head of Adam Le Fondre. Le Fondre almost added a second when he was first to a hopeful punt forward, but his effort struck defender rebounded off him for a goal kick. City were hardly in the game, their cause not helped by some woeful passing.
City were marginally more enterprising in the second but hardly more threatening. They forced a few corners which Reading dealt with comfortably. There was a flurry of substitutions midway through the second half. The towering Zigic came on and briefly troubled Reading in the air but the game was settled in the seventy-fifth minute when Robson-Kanu was clipped as he ran across the box and Guthrie stepped up the curl a ball over the wall and into the net in spite of a despairing flap by Randolph. Adkins was taking no chances and his substitutions left a very strange line up to see out the final phase of the game. Le Fondre, McCleary and Robson-Kanu were replaced by Kelly. Akpan and Obita. The threat of Zigic was taken far too seriously. Billy Sharp remained on the bench but I am sure his time will come.
This was another good team performance. Everyone played well. The addition of Baird is a master stroke. As a holding midfield player he did not put a foot wrong and showed some remarkable touches to cushion the ball into the path of players around him. Reading moved into the top six with this win and are showing signs of staying there.
This Championship game took place 2123 days ago in the 2013/2014 season.