Royals pay the penalty but keep heads held high
28th April 2012
Attendance: 25,516 (4,134 away)
Reading finished the Championship season as league winners, despite losing to play-off contenders Birmingham 2-0 at St Andrews.
Royals boss Brian McDermott ringed the changes for this game, bringing in Matt Connolly, Jay Tabb, Simon Church and Adam Le Fondre. The game would not change a huge amount for either side and it started in a laid back fashion, with David Murphy`s effort comfortably dealt with by Federici.
Reading captain Jobi McAnuff, operating on the right side, found some space to deliver for Adam Le Fondre but could not get another on his glancing header. Welsh international Simon Church then hit a well-struck volley that just went over the bar.
However, despite the Royals having the better chances, it was the hosts that went in front on 24 minutes. The Blues defence cleared a ball into the path of Nathan Redmond who beat Alex Pearce for pace on the half way line and pulled it across goal for Adam Rooney to slot home unopposed.
This goal truly woke up Chris Houghton`s side. Redmond was looking very much in the mood, striking a 25-yard effort just minutes after but Federici had it well covered. Adam Rooney then had a half chance as he broke Reading`s offside trap but his cross-shot was intercepted well by Ian Harte.
Wade Elliot then had an effort of his own which Federici had to palm wide of his near post. Reading`s best chance fell to Adam Le Fondre, as a clearance from Gorkss gave the former Rotherham striker some space but his dink over the keeper was cleared off the line by Ibanez.
Brian McDermott`s already-promoted side would have been disappointed to go in behind at the break but started the second period with great drive. Robson-Kanu`s deep cross was headed towards goal by McAnuff but couldn`t get enough contact.
The Blues then had a half chance as goalscorer Rooney blazed his volley over the bar after Gorkss header fell to the Irishman. McAnuff was looking lively and his low, inviting cross into the middle just needed a telling touch but no player managed to make contact to give the Royals an equaliser.
The former Watford winger then put into another superb cross which Blues goalkeeper Doyle spilled after pressure from his own defender, but Church`s follow up was denied by a superb goal-saving tackle from Curtis Davies, who was linked with a move to Reading during the week.
Reading continued to press and were given a lifeline as Alex Pearce won a penalty, with a Birmingham defender bundling the defender over. Ian Harte stepped up but Colin Doyle made the save down to his right side, despite looking off his line when the kick was taken.
Robert Madley was to give another penalty in this game but this time in favour of the home side. Jay Tabb was adjudged to have handled when blocking a cross from the right, leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot. Midfielder Wade Elliot took the kick and sent Federici the wrong way to extend their lead.
Le Fondre almost responded for a deflated Reading side, but couldn`t make enough contact on Harte`s deep cross. Substitute Brynjar Gunnarsson then had an effort over the bar before the referee was to award the third penalty in this game, again in the favour of Birmingham.
Neat play on the right allowed Rooney space and time in the box but the forward was tripped by Brynjar Gunnarsson in the area. Wade Elliot had already scored from the spot 15 minutes before but was unable to this time as Federici saved to his right-hand side to keep the scoreline respectable.
The loss wasn`t to put a downer on what has been a fantastic season for everyone concerned with Reading Football Club. Its 'Bye Bye Championship` and 'Hello Premier League`.
Birmingham: Doyle, Murphy, Ramage, Davies (c), Gomis, Ibanez, Elliott, N'Daw, Townsend, Redmond, Zigic
Subs: Butland, Burke, Huskelepp, Rooney, King
Reading: Federici, Connolly, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, McAnuff, Leigertwood, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, Church, Le Fondre
Subs: McCarthy, Cummings, Mills, Gunnarsson, Hunt