December 16, 2014 by Shane Ireland
Birmingham City 6-1 Reading
Written by: Shane Ireland
Birmingham City recorded an emphatic 6-1 win against Reading on Saturday afternoon, making it four wins out of seven under new boss Gary Rowett.
A superb first-half hat-trick from Demarai Gray put Blues 4-1 up at the break, after earlier goals from Paul Caddis and Reading’s Glenn Murray.
The terrific Andy Shinnie and David Cotterill added to the scoresheet in the second half to add to the home side’s ruthless display of clinical finishing.
Blues raced into an early lead, breaking the deadlock after just four minutes. Clayton Donaldson was fouled just outside the penalty area and the resulting free-kick was a routine inspired on the training ground. David Cotterill, who so often takes a shot at goal from set pieces, stepped over the ball before Jonathan Grounds squared to Paul Caddis who thundered a first-time strike into the corner of the net.
Before Reading could recuperate, the home side added another. In a goal reminiscent of his tricky predecessor Nathan Redmond, Demarai Gray cut inside 30 yards out, skipping past two Reading players and superbly sliding a finish past Adam Federici from the edge of the box.
With the St Andrew’s crowd jubilant after witnessing their team race into a two-goal lead, Reading hit back. A deep cross was volleyed into the ground by Jordan Obita, with the ball bouncing high enough to find the head of Glenn Murray who directed his effort over Darren Randolph.
However, Blues regained their earlier cushion as Gray struck again after 24 minutes. The 18-year-old took advantage of a poor clearance by Royals’ defender Jake Cooper, dribbling the ball away from a packed box to create an goalscoring angle which was perfectly suited for an accurate finish across Federici.
Gray made it a day to remember just 20 minutes later. David Davis raced into the Reading half after a well-timed tackle, releasing the winger who calmly side-footed a shot into the net, bagging his first ever professional hat-trick.
Birmingham may have been forgiven for sitting back after going in 4-1 up at the break, but Rowett’s side added another just 30 seconds into the second-half. Andy Shinnie, who has reignited his St Andrew’s career since the new manager’s arrival, cut in from the byline before firing home at the near post, scoring a deserved first goal of the season.
15 minutes later a destructive home side made it six. David Cotterill whipped in a free-kick from 30 yards which evaded every player in the box, including Federici who saw the Welsh international’s cross caress the corner of the net.
Cotterill came close to scoring his second and Blues’ seventh of the afternoon when he attempted an audacious chip from 40 yards. The midfielder’s shot just cleared the crossbar.
After 82 minutes the St Andrew’s crowd erupted once more, but this time not for a Birmingham goal. Clayton Donaldson made way, and was replaced by Nikola Zigic whose second coming delighted the home fans.
The supporters had a chance to show their admiration for the unstoppable Demarai Gray when he was withdrawn six minutes later, to a cheerful standing ovation that will live long in the youngster’s memory.
The superb victory pushes Blues upto 15th place, having taken 14 points from a possible 21 during the Rowett Revolution. It also signalled the end of Nigel Adkins’ reign at Reading, who was sacked on Monday.
Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett:
“His (Gray’s) finishing was so clinical. We toyed with him this week about how many goals he’s actually scored. He said ‘one’, and you could see on his face a look of disgust with himself so I’m really pleased for him, he’s a young player and we’ll keep his feet on the ground and make sure he puts a shift in as well as showing his quality.
“It was a ruthless and clinical performance in that game to others is we took virtually every chance we had.”
Reading manager Nigel Adkins:
“It was very, very close in terms of the game but it wasn’t in terms of the scoreline.
“Goals change the complex of games, we came here to be positive, started well and their keeper made a couple of early saves. But then they scored, and from our point of view they scored goals which we like to think we should stop. We’ll reflect on it.”
Starting line up: Randolph; Caddis, Morrison, Robinson, Grounds; Davis, Gleeson; Cotterill, Shinnie (Moussi 78′), Gray (Thomas 88′); Donaldson (Zigic 83′)
Subs not used: Doyle, Edgar, Reilly, Novak
Man of the match: Demarai Gray