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St Andrew's (ATT 27,300) 15th December 2007 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: L Probert

Birm'ham Birmingham City vs Reading Reading

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Penalty earns draw for Royals

Hunt penalty cancels out Forssell's first half goal

By Laura Slatcher.   Last Updated: 15/12/07 7:15pm

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Forssell: Blues goal

Forssell: Blues goal

Birmingham and Reading shared the spoils in a game in which both side's needed the win to pull away from the relegation battle.

The draw leaves Birmingham just two points above the drop zone while Reading are just four points clear of trouble.

Mikael Forssell had put the home side ahead after just four minutes, latching on to a Fabrice Muamba header across goal, his right-footed shot too strong for Marcus Hahnemann.

Reading started the brighter after the break and were rewarded with an equaliser after 51 minutes. Mathew Sadler's weak back pass was intercepted by Stephen Hunt who was brought down by Maik Taylor for a penalty.

Hunt converted the penalty with a nicely taken left-footed shot straight down Taylor's goal.

Birmingham had the best chance of grabbing a late winner with a 30-yard in-swinging shot from Gary McSheffrey coming off the crossbar before Forssell's follow-up was also denied by the woodwork.

Opener

Reading made a positive start but after four minutes Blues went ahead through Forssell in their first meaningful attack.

Gary McSheffrey's corner was flicked across the face of goal by Fabrice Muamba and, although Nicky Shorey blocked the recalled Forssell's initial header, the Finn bundled the rebound over the line for his third goal of the campaign.

The goal seemed to lift the home side and the confident Forssell twisted and turned to create an opening before having his eventual shot blocked.

Reading were forced to make a change after 27 minutes when midfielder Brynjar Gunnarsson suffered a knee injury and was replaced by Kalifa Cisse.

Hahnemann came to Reading's rescue after 40 minutes when he blocked a low close-range effort from Forssell with his feet.

But it needed Taylor to ensure Blues maintained their advantage at the interval when saving in similar fashion from James Harper.

Penalty
After 50 minutes Hunt put the Royals level from the penalty spot after a blunder by City defender Sadler.

The left-back did not put enough power into his attempted back-pass towards Taylor, who brought down Hunt after he had seized on to the loose ball.

Up stepped Hunt to send the Northern Ireland number one the wrong way from the spot.

Birmingham tried to retaliate and a deep cross from Sebastian Larsson was met by Jerome but he sent his header over the crossbar.

Hahnemann produced a reflex save to keep out Jerome's close-range header from a McSheffrey centre and fisted away a curling Larsson free-kick.

McSheffrey was unfortunate when a 30-yard free-kick rattled against the Reading crossbar. The rebound fell to Larsson whose header was cleared off the line by Sonko, who directed the ball up on to the underside of the crossbar and out.

Reading substitute Shane Long could have snatched victory in the closing stages but he mis-hit his volley when completely unmarked as Steve Coppell's side finished in the ascendancy, with Hunt side-footing a late chance for a second goal wide.

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Birmingham CityTeam StatisticsReading
1Goals1
11st Half Goals0
6Shots on Target3
5Shots off Target6
6Blocked Shots4
6Corners6
16Fouls19
2Offsides1
2Yellow Cards1
0Red Cards0
57.5Passing Success60.4
20Tackles19
90Tackles Success84.2
57.4Possession42.6
44.1Territorial Advantage55.9

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Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 33 77
2 Manchester City 34 67
3 Arsenal 33 67
4 Manchester United 34 65
5 Liverpool 33 58
6 Tottenham Hotspur 34 58
7 Southampton 34 57
8 Swansea City 34 50
9 Stoke City 34 47
10 Everton 34 44
11 West Ham United 34 44
12 Crystal Palace 34 42
13 West Bromwich Albion 34 37
14 Newcastle United 34 35
15 Aston Villa 34 32
16 Hull City 33 31
17 Leicester City 33 31
18 Sunderland 33 30
19 Queens Park Rangers 34 27
20 Burnley 34 26

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