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Match Report


Posted Sat 08 Aug 15 at 16:50 PM

Report: Blues 2 Reading 1

Blues kicked off their 2015/16 Championship campaign in the best possible fashion with a gutsy home win against Reading.

Goals either side of half-time from David Cotterill and Jon Toral secured all three points for the hosts, with Nick Blackman finding the back of the net for the Royals.

But it could have been a very different afternoon had Tomasz Kuszczak not superbly saved an added-time penalty as the match lurched into late drama, in the seventh extra minute played.

In a game played in glorious sunshine at St. Andrew’s, Gary Rowett gave starts to three debutants - goalkeeper  Kuszczak and midfielders Toral and Maikel Kieftenbeld.

There was a lively opening to the proceedings as Demarai Gray saw his shot deflected behind for a corner before Oliver Norwood drilled a free-kick just inches over the bar for the visitors.

Norwood then had a further opportunity from a similar position, but again he just failed to keep  his attempt down.

A great piece of attacking play by Blues down the right flank culminated in  Cotterill sending a testing ball deep into the Reading box, but Royals keeper Jonathan Bond claimed it just before it reached Toral. 

Reading had a great opportunity to break the deadlock after 35 minutes following a corner, but Aaron Tshibola’s attempt from just three yards out was cleared off the line and away from danger by a combination of Stephen Gleeson and Kuszczak.

St. Andrew’s erupted after 40 minutes when Cotterill gave Blues a somewhat fortuitous lead.

Blues were awarded a free-kick 25  yards out and the Welsh international’s dead ball strike took a massive deflection before flying past the wrong-footed Bond in the Royals goal.

Half-time: Blues 1 Reading 0

With the second-half less than two minutes old, Blues found themselves two goals to the good courtesy of Arsenal loanee Toral with a fine header.

Clayton Donaldson put in an excellent cross towards the middle of the area and Toral got in between the covering defenders to direct a glancing header into the bottom corner of the net from ten yards out - a super finish.

Danny Williams then tried his luck with a low shot from distance after 56 minutes but it just lacked direction and flew a yard wide of Kuszczak’s upright.

Just before the hour-mark Reading found themselves back in the contest when they pulled a goal back.

Kuszczak parried away Williams' shot and the ball fell to straight to Chris Gunter the right who crossed it in for Blackman to head home.

The goal appeared to re-energise Steve Clarke’s team who began to pile on the pressure and Paul McShane saw his looping header hit the bar.

Blues were really being pinned back and Tshibola struck a thunderous shot which crashed off the bar and down onto the line before spinning away; Reading claimed it had gone in.

With just two minutes to go of normal time Blues broke forward and had the chance to seal the win after Gray twisted away to the right of the area, following good work by Gleeson, Paul Caddis and Andrew Shinnie, before firing a low shot just wide.    

However, with seven minutes of stoppage-time played, the Blues fans' hearts were in their mouths when referee Peter Bankes pointed to the penalty spot after David Davis tangled with Simon Cox, who was running into the area. 

Orlando Sa stepped up to take it and struck it well but not far enough wide of Kuszczak to the right; he brilliantly got a hand to it and pushed it out.

Cox, who had clearly encroached, was just six yards out to the right when the loose ball came to him but he sidefooted wide of the far past as Kuszczak sprang up to try and narrow the angle.

The cheers around a near 20,000 St. Andrew's crowd rang out long and loud as the goalkeeper was mobbed by his team mates - and moments later the final whistle went. 

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