Report: Reading 2 Blues 3

Jeremie Bela celebrates Blues' second goal.
Jeremie Bela celebrates Blues' second goal.

It was a deserved victory for Pep Clotet and his players and it was the 1,900 or so Blues fans that returned to the West Midlands with broad smiles on their faces.


Blues put in a battling performance against the odds to collect all three points at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Despite losing two players early in the game through injury Pep Clotet’s side took a first-half lead after former Blues defender Michael Morrison diverted the ball into his own net, before Reading levelled on the stroke of half-time.

A first Blues goal by Jeremie Bela direct from a free-kick and a late Alvaro Gimenez finish made it it 3-1 to the visitors before Reading pulled a consolation goal back deep into stoppage time.

It was a deserved victory for Pep Clotet and his Blues players who dominated the second-half play and sent the 1,900 or so Blues fans in attendance back to the West Midlands with broad smiles on their faces.

There were three changes to the side that drew against Millwall last time out, with Harlee Dean, Josh McEachran and Jeremie Bela coming in for Marc Roberts, Fran Villalba and Lukas Jutkiewicz.

Blues made a lively start and they forced two corners within the first three minutes.

Seven minutes in, Blues had their first attempt on goal when Dan Crowley won the ball on the right before laying it off to Alavaro Gimenez.

Gimenez slid the ball across to Jude Bellingham, but Bellingham’s effort from the edge of the box was deflected behind by Morrison.

Just after the quarter hour mark there was the disappointing sight of Jake Clarke-Salter being forced to leave the field with what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder after landing awkwardly following a challenge from Andy Rinomhota.

Wes Harding replaced him from the substitutes’ bench.

Midway through the half Garath McCleary found a way through the right side of the Blues defence before squaring the ball to Yakou Meite, but with just Connal Trueman to beat he scuffed his shot from just 10 yards.

With just 30 minutes on the clock Blues were forced to make a second change with Crowley limping off with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Jacques Maghoma.

With Blues having to readjust, Reading began to ramp up the pressure and cause problems.

Several times Blues were grateful for some last ditch defending to prevent The Royals setting up a clear scoring chance.

But somewhat against the run of play Blues took the lead courtesy of an own goal, and of course the way the dice fall it came off Morrison.

A neat passing move from Blues saw the ball reach Bellingham on the edge of the box, but as he attempted to take it into the area, he was challenged by Morrison and the ball struck the Reading defender and looped into the net.

Having suffered the disappointment of falling behind as they did, the hosts were right back in it on the stroke of half-time when Meite powered home Gomes’ corner.

Half-time: Reading 1 Blues 1

Right from the kick-off Blues were on the attack and after keeping the ball down the right flank they eventually got it across to Ivan Sunjic who struck a first-time effort narrowly over the bar from distance.

Blues appeared to be playing with a new sense of purpose and Gimenez was next to try his luck, but he sidefooted his effort wide of the far post.

It really was all Blues now and Bellingham had another attempt blocked before Maghoma crashed a shot off the bar

But the away fans were sent into raptures when Bela fired them into a well-deserved lead from a terrific 25-yard free-kick which left Reading ‘keeper Rafael Cabral with no chance.

But Reading were certainly not done and Trueman did well to save from Puscas.

However, Blues were also looking to press home their advantage at the other end and Bela was not far away with a well-struck free-kick from a similar distance from which he scored his goal.

But this time Cabral was just about able to reach it just inside his right-hand post and punched it away.

With the crowd roaring them on, Reading were pressing forward in search of an equaliser, but the Blues defence was standing firm in the face of an onslaught.

However, the game was put beyond doubt in the 88th minute when Blues scored a crucial third goal.

Gimenez collected the ball on the right of the area, before trying his luck with a sidefooted effort. It was blocked by a Reading defender, but fortunately for the Spaniard it rebounded to him and he made no mistake with his second bite of the cherry as he curled it into the far corner. 3-1 Blues!

In the final minute of stoppage time Joao gave the hosts the slightest glimmer of hope when he netted a scruffy second goal for the hosts but it was too little too late.

Reading (3-4-3): Cabral, Morrison, Miazga (Boye, h/t), Moore (C), Rinomhota, McCleary (Joao, 66), Yiadom, Meite, Richards, Gomes (Adams, 76), Puscas.

Subs not used: Walker, Gunter, Loader, Blackett Fans

Bookings: Puscas (87)

Goals: Meite (45), Joao (90+5)

Blues (4-2-3-1): Trueman, Colin, Pedersen, Dean (C), Crowley (Maghoma, 30), Sunjic, Bellingham, Gimenez, Clarke-Salter (Harding, 17), Bela, McEachran (Jutkiewicz, 69).

Subs not used: Camp, Montero, Davis, Bailey.

Bookings: McEachran (60)

Goals: Morrison (41, OG), Bela (59), Gimenez (88).

Attendance: 14,103 (1,896 Blues fans).

Referee: Tim Robinson.