Birmingham 2-1 Reading: Lee Bowyer earns debut win with Blues

Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash between Birmingham and Reading at St Andrew's as Harlee Dean's late winner earns Lee Bowyer a first win in charge of the Blues on Wednesday night.

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham and Reading.

Lee Bowyer got his managerial reign at Birmingham City off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory against Reading at St Andrew's.

Goals from the recalled Lukas Jutkiewicz and captain Harlee Dean gave the Blues only their fourth win in their last 20 Championship games, sandwiching Yakou Meite's equaliser.

Bowyer was welcomed back to Birmingham, where he played for two years from 2009-11, with a printed vinyl banner hung on the gates outside the ground declaring 'Welcome Lee - Keep Right On' - the latter three words in reference to
the club's enduring slogan.

Image: Lee Bowyer celebrates Birmingham's win

Victory for Birmingham was vital to ease their relegation fears and it ended play-off-challenging Reading's four-match unbeaten run.

Bowyer's reign got off to the good start as his side took a fourth-minute lead.

Jeremie Bela hoisted in an inswinging cross from the left and Jutkiewicz - one of two players recalled along with Gary Gardner - connected with a towering header.

It was the 31-year-old striker's 50th goal for the club and first since November.

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Birmingham centre-back Marc Roberts should have done better when he volleyed high and wide when a loose ball dropped to him on the edge of the box.

But Roberts and his team-mates had some defending to do as Reading came back into the game.

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Birmingham's Harlee Dean scored the winning goal with a powerful header against Reading.

Meite's 25-yard curling free-kick was tipped behind by goalkeeper Neil Etheridge then Josh Laurent volleyed wide.

Meite equalised in the 35th minute, stooping to head home at the far post after Michael Olise's corner had been allowed to sail across goal and Etheridge could only flap at the header.

It was the Ivory Coast forward's eighth goal of the season and second equaliser in as many games.

Birmingham went close before half-time when Roberts headed Alen Halilovic's corner on top of the net then Gardner's firm drive was parried by goalkeeper Rafael Cabral, who denied Scott Hogan from the follow-up.

Birmingham captain Dean made it 2-1 in the 71st minute, rising above Alfa Semedo to net with a powerful 10-yard header after Reading failed to clear Halilovic's corner.

Etheridge smothered Olise's 20-yard volley with 11 minutes left then bravely tipped away the loose ball under pressure as Reading probed for a second equaliser.

Reading pushed the home side all the way in the closing stages but they failed to create any clear chances as Birmingham's defence held firm to hand Bowyer a winning start.

What the managers said...

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Lee Bowyer got his managerial reign at Birmingham City off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory against Reading.

Birmingham's Lee Bowyer: "You have to get after teams like Reading because if you don't, they're going to hurt you. We tried to set traps and they were won a lot of the time. The odd time they got through it, we had that press and it worked tactically.

"If I didn't think we've got enough to stay up, I wouldn't be here. Everyone keeps looking at what are now our next three games - Watford, Brentford and Swansea - and the run-in, but we've also got another six after that. There are no easy games. The first four games are tough but Derby and Rotherham will be tough too. I believe we will (stay up) - if we work like that and put in performances like that in every game, we've got a very good chance."

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Reading boss Veljko Paunovic was disappointed with his sides performance after losing 2-1 to Birmingham in the Championship.

Reading's Veljko Paunovic: "This is the first time I've seen this side of this team and I don't want to repeat it ever again. I feel a big pain over the way we lost this game. We were our biggest enemy with the mistakes. We conceded very easy goals - everyone is fighting for their lives at this stage of the season.

"We have to learn to kill these games, and apply it. There's no time any more. This is not the Reading of the past - we're not allowed to be complacent and be happy that we're 'x' points clear in the play-off positions. We don't want people like that here. Our hunger has to improve and we have to nourish this opportunity. I believe 100 per cent I have the best players in the league."

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