Blues secure promotion
Birmingham clinched automatic promotion and confined Reading to the play-offs with a 2-1 victory.
Last Updated: 03/05/09 3:26pm
Birmingham clinched automatic promotion and confined Reading to the play-offs with a 2-1 victory at the Madejski Stadium.
Blues started the final day of the season in second place and needing to win to make certain of an immediate return to the Premier League.
They were gifted an early lead when Keith Fahey's shot crept past Marcus Hahnemann and Kevin Phillips made it 2-0 on the hour mark.
Substitute Marek Matejovsky hammered in a reply for Reading but they were unable to find an equaliser and Birmingham held on to spark wild celebrations from the travelling fans.
Reading's Jimmy Kebe had the first shot on target after a fine crossfield ball from Andre Bikey picked him out on the left of the area but his shot was straight at Maik Taylor in the Birmingham goal.
Phillips hooked an acrobatic effort wide after Reading made a hash of dealing with a long throw as Alex McLeish's side began to press.
And the Blues had the lead in the 19th minute. James McFadden took a corner which was cleared back to him and he drilled a second cross deep to the back post.
Phillips cushioned a header down to Fahey and, after cutting in from the left, the Irishman curled in a shot from the edge of the area which should have been gathered by Hahnemann but somehow squirmed through his grasp and over the line.
Shane Long flashed an effort wide at the start of the second period after good work from Dave Kitson before Steve Coppell brought Matejovsky on in a bid to wrestle control of central midfield.
Top scorer Kevin Doyle was then also summoned from the bench despite not being fit after a knee injury as Coppell gambled on finding an equaliser.
But it was the visitors who struck the second goal in the 60th minute.
A throw found its way back to Fahey and he clipped an immaculate first-time pass to release Phillips, who was level with Michael Duberry.
The home side called in vain for an offside flag while Phillips showed some trademark composure to calmly roll the ball wide of the advancing Hahnemann and into the far corner.
That appeared to be that but Reading found a way back into the game with a goal just a minute later.
A set-piece was brought under control at the back post by Kitson and he smuggled it back to Matejovsky on the edge of the area.
The Czech Republic international skilfully dummied inside one challenge before arrowing a right-footed shot past Taylor and into the bottom corner.
It was his first of the season but he was clearly in the mood as he went close to an equaliser with a rasping drive from 25 yards which forced Taylor to nervously beat the ball away.
Reading were now dominant but left themselves exposed to danger on the break and Birmingham substitute Garry O'Connor nearly settled the game with five minutes left when he broke from his own half and smashed a shot against the foot of the post.
The ball stayed out but it was the 2,000 visiting fans who were cheering at full-time as they joined Wolves in returning to the top flight.