Birmingham City extended their unbeaten run to 10 Championship matches with a 2-1 victory over Reading at St Andrews on Tuesday.
The win, secured with second half goals from Gary Gardner, his first for the club, and Lukas Jutkiewicz’s seventh league goal of the season, lifted The Blues up to ninth place in the table after their third successive league win.
Garry Monk’s side endured a frustrating start to the season remaining winless in any of their opening eight Championship games. However, they drew six of those eight games and their performances merited much more than the six points they collected. In most of the opening eight games Birmingham created more than enough chances to win games, but their finishing and at times decision-making in the final third was costing Monk’s side.
Birmingham’s first win was finally secured with a 2-1 success at Elland Road against the previously unbeaten Leeds United in their ninth league game. That win highlighted The Blues’ ability to be clinical in the final third, as they scored two goals from just four attempts on goal. That has given an injection of confidence to Birmingham’s forwards, with Monk’s side scoring 11 goals in their last six games compared with just five in their first eight games, which has given The Blues the platform to convert good performances into victories.
Another key factor in Birmingham’s unbeaten run has been their solid defensive displays, which has seen them concede less than a goal per game, with just 13 goals in their 14 matches. Only league leaders Middlesbrough, 5th placed Leeds United and 8th placed Swansea City have conceded fewer. That is a marked improvement from last season, as Birmingham conceded an average of 1.4 goals per game across their 46 matches.
The win against Reading leaves Birmingham on 20 points just a point off the play-off places and just six points short of league leaders Middlesbrough. The Blues have only lost twice so far, which is the joint best record in the league, and are now well placed to mount a promotion challenge. If The Blues can remain solid in defence and continue their new-found clinical edge in the final third, they could mount a challenge for promotion this season.
Following the win against Reading Monk speaking to BBC Sport Monk said, “We’re realistic. Let’s not forget this club, in three out of the last five years, has been fighting relegation on the last day.”
“Our aim is to make sure we’re not doing that, our aim is to make sure it’s not a season where we’re coming into the last day and there’s the possibility of relegation. “We’ve all got dreams and ambitions but let’s be realistic. We’re still very early.”
“It’s now three wins in a row and 10 unbeaten in any league is a hard thing to do. The effort and commitment in the second half was huge.”