Mar 22, 2014 at 3pm UK at ​St Andrew's
BirminghamBirmingham City
Caddis (44' pen.)
Ibe (71')
FT(HT: 1-1)
McAnuff (42', 82')
Guthrie (67')

Preview: Birmingham City vs. Reading

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship clash between relegation-threatened Birmingham and playoff-chasing Reading.

Reading's playoff charge has been slowed in recent weeks, and they will need to get it back on track when they travel to St Andrew's to take on Birmingham City on Saturday.

The Royals have slipped out of the top six following a run of just one win in their last five matches, although they have also only been beaten once in that time, with draws proving to be their undoing.

On the plus side, they are unbeaten in four matches and have taken points off fellow playoff contenders Brighton & Hove Albion and Derby County in that spell, as well as recording a good away victory over Leeds United.

However, their fate is no longer in their own hands as they sit one point outside the playoff places having played a game more than Brighton, who sit a place below them on goal difference.

With the likes of Barnsley, Huddersfield Town, Charlton Athletic and Bournemouth also to come in the next five matches, Nigel Adkins will be eyeing Saturday's match as a chance to begin a lucrative run of form that could see them move back into the top six.

Unusually, they have relied just as heavily on their away form as the basis of their playoff push as they have done on home form this season, picking up 28 points at the Madejski and another 28 on the road.

Their recent away record makes for even more impressive reading, with no defeats in four and just two dropped points in that time.

Similar performances to the ones that saw them brush off the likes of Millwall, Queens Park Rangers and Leeds at their own respective grounds could well see Reading move back into the top six considering the recent dip in form suffered by Nottingham Forest.

Adkins will be without Mikele Leigertwood, Jem Karacan and Sean Morrison for the match, while veteran striker Jason Roberts has announced his retirement from football altogether.

The Royals won't be expecting an easy match against Birmingham, who have plenty to fight for themselves at the other end of the table.

Lee Clark's side are still just five points clear of the bottom three and are in danger of becoming entangled in the relegation battle if results don't improve soon.

Victory over an out-of-form Blackpool is their only success in their last seven matches, during which time they have also lost five games.

Their defence has shipped seven goals in their last two outings but, despite that, it is their vastly superior goal difference that gives them a major advantage in any relegation scrap.

The real worry comes from their home form, however. No team has amassed fewer points in front of their own fans this season than Birmingham, who have not won any of their last 13 league games at St Andrew's and have only beaten League Two side Bristol Rovers in the last 16 in all competitions.

The Blues will certainly be looking over their shoulders with those behind them beginning to pick up points, and the sooner they can end their torrid home form, the better.

Once again they will have to do it without the injured duo of Neal Eardley and Matthew Green, but Aaron Martin could have earned himself a recall in defence.

Recent form

Birmingham: LWLLDL

Reading: WLDDWD

Possible starting lineups

Birmingham: Randolph; Spector, Packwood, Martin, Robinson; Adeyemi, Huws; Burke, Novak, Lee; Macheda

Reading: McCarthy; Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Obita; Robson-Kanu, McCleary, Akpan, Guthrie, McAnuff; Le Fondre

Sports Mole says: 0-2

Nigel Adkins, manager of Reading, shouts instructions from the touchline on April 28, 2013
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