Coppell relieved by Royals win
Steve Coppell is relieved Reading have their destiny in their own hands after beating Birmingham.
By Ben Collins
Last Updated: 22/03/08 8:30pm
Manager Steve Coppell is relieved Reading have their destiny in their own hands after taking another step towards Premier League survival with a 2-1 win over Birmingham.
Andre Bikey gave the hosts a 31st-minute lead and although young Argentinian striker Mauro Zarate drew Birmingham level in the 64th minute, Bikey popped up from another free-kick to head home a 78th-minute winner.
Bikey's unlikely double secured a third win in four games for the resurgent Royals, who have climbed out of the bottom three to go five points clear of the drop zone with seven games.
Coppell insists his side cannot afford to relax yet, although he is pleased to have got into a positive position.
"There's a long way to go in terms of points on the table," Coppell told Sky Sports. "But at this stage we still have an element of control about where we're going to play our football (next season) and we don't have to depend on anyone else.
"Today could have gone either way, I'm realistic enough to appreciate that. We probably had the home-team edge and that could be significant with the remaining games."
It was a hard-fought game at the Madejski Stadium with Birmingham going into the match just a point below Reading.
The Blues threatened to get on top after equalising midway through the second half and Coppell praised substitute Shane Long and goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann for their efforts in helping to secure the three points.
"They changed their shape, which gave us a few more problems, and then they scored," said Coppell.
"At that stage I think they had the momentum, but we then changed our shape to match them and give them more problems.
"The power and pace of Shane up front again paid dividends for us. He won the free-kick and from the free-kick came the winning goal.
Twists and turns
"It was very much a game of twists and turns, but I think we just edged it as the home side.
"They had some very good chances and Marcus made a terrific save (from Mikael Forssell) at a critical time, which kept us in the driving seat."
Coppell also hailed two-goal hero Bikey after the Cameroon defender popped up with an unlikely double.
"He's been threatening for a while," said Coppell. "He's got an eye for goal.
"He's just so strong so once he gets into a run, he's hard to stop. He got across the defender and just got an edge to take advantage of a good delivery.
"I think every team appreciates the value of good delivery into those areas and if you can do that, they're just so hard for any team to defend."