Preview: Reading vs. Birmingham City

Preview: Reading vs. Birmingham City

Reading will begin life without Veljko Paunovic at the helm on Tuesday, as they welcome Birmingham City to the Madejski Stadium.

The former boss departed on Saturday after their victory over Preston North End, leaving the Royals 21st in the Championship table, while their visitors sit 11 points and three places better off.

After being dealt a points deduction early in the season, Reading’s survival hopes took another major hit between early December and February, as they had to endure an 11-game winless run in the Championship.

Involved in that run were seven consecutive second-tier defeats, in which the Royals conceded 23 goals, before they eventually posted a goalless draw with fellow strugglers Peterborough United last week.

Ultimately, that run led to the agreement between the club and Veljko Paunovic to part ways, although he did lead them into Saturday’s trip to Preston North End.

The Serbian witnessed a dream start, as Lucas Joao gave them an early two-goal lead with a brace, before John Swift made it three in the second half and the Royals held out for a much-needed 3-2 victory despite Daniel Johnson and Cameron Archer pulling goals back for the hosts.

With Paunovic now gone, and Paul Ince set to temporarily take charge, and the Madejski outfit just five points clear of the relegation zone, they will look to make it consecutive wins to give their survival hopes another huge boost.

Birmingham also arrive looking to stretch an unbeaten run to three games after correcting their own form in recent weeks.

While Lee Bowyer’s men have been relatively comfortable throughout the campaign, they will have been concerned by a run of 11 games between December and January, in which they earned just a single victory and seven points.

Following back-to-back defeats, the Blues took a major step in the right direction as they thrashed Luton Town 3-0 on home turf, with Juninho Bacuna, Lyle Taylor and Onel Hernandez all getting on the scoresheet.

Bowyer’s men then earned another commendable point at the weekend, leaving Stoke City with a 2-2 draw thanks to Gary Gardner’s equaliser after Jordan James had initially put them ahead in the first half.

Now sitting 18th with an 11-point lead over their opponents, the Midlands outfit will look to post another positive result with the chance to climb another place with a three-point haul.

Reading Championship form:
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Birmingham City Championship form:
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We say: Reading 1-1 Birmingham City
Reading should have renewed confidence from Saturday’s win, and a change in management often brings about a boost, but Birmingham also arrive in high spirits and could force a share of the spoils.

We see the two sides cancelling out one another’s efforts, given their extensive injury issues and the hosts’ need to avoid a defeat.

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