Reading went into the game with Birmingham knowing that they were champions of the Championship, and their fans were in full voice throughout the inflatables made an appearance, as is now traditional for the last away game of the season. Reading were looking to sign off with a win, but Birmingham had more of a reason to get all three points to claim fourth place, and it showed.
Adam Le Fondre, Jay Tabb, on-loan Matthew Connelly and Simon Church all came into the side in place of Jason Roberts who was suspended after last week’s red card, Noel Hunt who dropped to the bench, Hayden Mullins who wasn’t in the squad and Cummings who also dropped to the bench.
Neither side really took an early grasp of the game and it felt like a friendly, with the Reading fans in the away end having a party. Federici was called into action several times early on, not by Birmingham but by inflateables that were flying around the pitch. When Federici was eventually tested by Redmond, it was comfortable enough and he saved well.
Church smashed a volley goalwards but it was wide of the mark, but then Birmingham broke as a sensational channel ball was put through to Nathan Redmond who raced towards goal and played a lovely ball to Adam Rooney, who came on for Zigic after an injury, and slotted home comfortably.
Chants of “Champions” rang out from the away end as they didn’t let the goal dampen the spirits. Redmond and Wade Elliott then went close but were never going to beat Federici. Reading contiuned to defend but then came the only real talking point of the day. Adam Le Fondre was put through on goal but before he could get his shot away he was bundled over by a backtracking defender. The ball went past the keeper but it was cleared off the line, which can be the only reason why it wasn’t given. However, Reading were livid with the decision as it would have been a penalty and subsequently a red card for the player that tackled Le Fondre.
Le Fondre then went close as he lifted the ball over the keeper after going through on goal, but a Birmingham defender was again on the line to clear the ball away from danger. Birmingham hit the post in the final action of the half as N’Daw smashed a header off the upright.
The second half was just as much of a friendly as the first, with Elliott going close but narrowly firing over the bar. Jobi McAnuff then did well on the right before crossing for Church, but the cross was a little too hard for the onrushing striker. Church then went close again as Birmingham keeper Doyle dropped a cross, but the Reading striker couldn’t get to the ball ahead of the defender and he was tackled.
From the resulting corner Reading were awarded a penalty for climbing on Alex Pearce. Ian Harte took it but a poor spot kick, mixed with the keeper being way off his line, saw Doyle save it and the score remained 1-0.
There was soon a penalty awarded to Birmingham for an apparent handball by Jay Tabb. However, he was sliding in so it is hard to tell how he could have got his hand out of the way of the drilled shot whilst sliding along the ground. Elliott stepped up to make it 2-0 to Birmingham, who now looked comfortable.
Andros Townsend and Rooney nearly added more to the scoreline before another Birmingham penalty was awarded for a foul by Aron Gunnarson. However, this time Federici saved Elliott’s penalty and the season ended with the Reading fans chanting and celebrating, the only time we were able to the whole game.
So Reading, the team that lost five in a row at the start of the season, are officially the best team over 46 games of the Championship. Onto the Premier League now where Reading will look to better their only other stay in the Premier League, which lasted two years. Additions to the squad have been mentioned with the new owner, under whom the future is bright, the future is blue and white.