Danny Guthrie scored a free-kick in each half as Reading moved into the play-off places with victory over Birmingham at the Madejski Stadium.

The opening set piece from wide on the left somehow found its way through a mass of bodies into the far corner.

Birmingham created little but Chris Burke shot over from a David Murphy cross and at the other end a deflected Garath McCleary shot was well saved.

Guthrie made sure of victory with a curled strike from the edge of the box.

Reading have now taken 13 points from their last five matches and after weathering some early pressure from the visitors - who beat Swansea 3-1 in the League Cup in midweek - the Royals were full value for the win.

McCleary released Pavel Pogrebnyak inside the Birmingham area but the Russian's fierce shot was well saved by Blues goalkeeper Darren Randolph, and Chris Baird nodded powerfully over from a Guthrie corner as the home side continued to press.

In the second half, Pogrebnyak won an aerial duel with Jonathan Spector and referee James Adcock initially gave Reading the advantage and waved play on, but with three players bearing down on the Birmingham defence, Adcock stopped the game to allow Spector to receive treatment.

More Reading pressure followed as McCleary cut in from the left and drove wide, then forced Randolph to tip over soon afterwards.

The second goal finally arrived when Dan Burn fouled Robson-Kanu on the edge of the area and Guthrie beat Randolph at his near post with the resulting free-kick.

Reading manager Nigel Adkins:

"We could really have been out of sight in the first half with all our chances. We're just starting to build a bit of momentum now with another three points and another clean sheet.

"Every game in this division is so competitive. We've just to make sure we stay in the race until January and then we'll have a look to see where we are.

"There will be no complacency. I'll keep driving them on because we've set our bar very high."

Birmingham City manager Lee Clark:

"The difference in the game for me was two top-class set-plays from which we've come undone.

"We could still have taken something from the game if we'd had more composure, made the right decisions and had a bit more of a cutting edge in the final third.

"We made the wrong decisions at the wrong times. In terms of our general performance, I was pleased. We passed the ball around well and competed."

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (6)

Reading

  • 21 McCarthy
  • 02 Gunter
  • 05 Pearce
  • 15 Morrison
  • 18 Bridge
  • 06 Baird
  • 12 McCleary (Obita - 80' )
  • 19 Robson-Kanu (Kelly - 85' )
  • 20 Guthrie
  • 07 Pogrebnyak
  • 09 Le Fondre (Akpan - 79' )

Substitutes

  • 01 Federici
  • 03 Kelly
  • 17 Gorkss
  • 24 Cummings
  • 16 Akpan
  • 37 Obita
  • 14 Sharp

Birmingham City

  • 01 Randolph
  • 04 Robinson
  • 06 Burn
  • 23 Spector Booked
  • 03 Murphy (Ferguson - 76' )
  • 17 Reilly
  • 24 Adeyemi (Elliott - 71' )
  • 31 Caddis
  • 07 Burke
  • 09 Lingard
  • 25 Green (Zigic - 66' Booked )

Substitutes

  • 13 Doyle
  • 05 Bartley
  • 27 Ferguson
  • 15 Elliott
  • 20 Lee
  • 22 Shinnie
  • 19 Zigic
Ref: Adcock
Att: 18,252

Match Stats

Shots

11 17

On target

5 5

Corners

2 4

Fouls

7 12

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +4:52 Full time

Full Time The referee blows the whistle to end the game.

90:00 +4:08

Alex McCarthy takes the free kick.

90:00 +3:49

The referee shows Nikola Zigic a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

90:00 +3:49 Booking

Booking

90:00 +3:36

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Alex McCarthy by Nikola Zigic.

90:00 +2:03

Shot by Pavel Pogrebnyak went over the crossbar.

90:00 +1:59

The ball is delivered by Stephen Kelly.

90:00 +0:56

Paul Caddis makes a clearance.

90:00 +0:15

Sean Morrison makes a clearance.

90:00 +0:08

Clearance made by Danny Guthrie.

89:57

Jesse Lingard takes a shot.

89:57

Shot by Jesse Lingard. Blocked by Sean Morrison.

89:44

Clearance made by Stephen Kelly.

89:44

Shane Ferguson produces a cross.

88:28

Clearance by Wade Elliott.

88:24

Clearance by Callum Reilly.

87:31

Corner taken by Jesse Lingard.

87:12

Shot by Wade Elliott. Alex McCarthy parries the ball away.

87:00

The ball is delivered by Shane Ferguson.

86:43

Clearance by Dan Burn.

86:12

Christopher Burke takes a shot and went wide left of the goal.

85:55

Clearance made by Chris Gunter.

85:54

The ball is delivered by Paul Caddis.

85:14

Sean Morrison manages to make a clearance.

85:01

Sean Morrison makes a clearance.

84:39

Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.

84:32 Substitution

Substitution Stephen Kelly comes on in place of Hal Robson-Kanu.

82:50

Free kick awarded for a foul by Jordan Obita on Paul Caddis.

82:39

Clearance made by Wayne Bridge.

82:24

Dan Burn manages to make a clearance.

82:22

Chris Gunter crosses the ball.

80:54

Clearance made by Jonathan Spector.

80:33

The ball is crossed by Paul Caddis.

79:59

Wayne Bridge makes a clearance.

79:37

Clearance by Shane Ferguson.

79:23

Clearance made by Dan Burn.

79:05 Substitution

Substitution Garath McCleary leaves the field to be replaced by Jordan Obita.

78:24 Substitution

Substitution Adam Le Fondre goes off and Hope Akpan comes on.

77:08

Clearance by Dan Burn.

76:07

Wayne Bridge manages to make a clearance.

76:07

The ball is sent over by Paul Caddis.

75:40 Substitution

Substitution David Murphy goes off and Shane Ferguson comes on.

74:11 Goal scored

Goal! - Danny Guthrie - Reading 2 - 0 Birmingham Danny Guthrie finds the net with a shot from the free kick. Reading 2-0 Birmingham.

73:10

Paul Robinson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Hal Robson-Kanu.

73:03

Alex Pearce makes a clearance.

72:57

Dan Burn makes a clearance.

72:27

Shot by Christopher Burke cleared the bar.

71:30

Chris Gunter makes a clearance.

71:29

David Murphy crosses the ball.

70:58

Alex McCarthy takes the free kick.

70:43

Unfair challenge on Garath McCleary by Christopher Burke results in a free kick.

70:42 Substitution

Substitution (Birmingham) makes a substitution, with Wade Elliott coming on for Tom Adeyemi.

70:34

Alex Pearce manages to make a clearance.

70:27

Christopher Burke takes the free kick.

70:02

Tom Adeyemi fouled by Chris Baird, the ref awards a free kick.

69:55

Clearance made by Dan Burn.

69:50

Callum Reilly manages to make a clearance.

69:44

Jonathan Spector manages to make a clearance.

69:41

Tom Adeyemi makes a clearance.

69:31

Clearance made by Jonathan Spector.

69:23

Alex Pearce manages to make a clearance.

68:35

Paul Robinson manages to make a clearance.

67:47

Header at goal by Nikola Zigic misses to the right.

67:44

The ball is swung over by David Murphy.

66:41

Tom Adeyemi has an effort at goal. Blocked by Alex Pearce.

66:24

Clearance by Dan Burn.

65:48 Substitution

Substitution (Birmingham) makes a substitution, with Nikola Zigic coming on for Matt Green.

65:13

Clearance by Alex Pearce.

64:21

Clearance by Paul Robinson.

64:16

Clearance made by Dan Burn.

64:04

Clearance made by Dan Burn.

64:00

Corner taken by Danny Guthrie from the left by-line.

63:41

Garath McCleary takes a shot. Darren Randolph parries the ball away.

63:37

Clearance made by Dan Burn.

63:34

Free kick crossed by Danny Guthrie.

63:18

Jonathan Spector goes into the referee's book for dissent.

63:18 Booking

Booking

62:50

Foul by Jonathan Spector on Pavel Pogrebnyak, free kick awarded.

62:43

Paul Caddis makes a clearance.

62:35

Free kick taken by Alex McCarthy.

62:19

Foul by Callum Reilly on Hal Robson-Kanu, free kick awarded.

62:01

Alex Pearce manages to make a clearance.

61:24

Alex Pearce manages to make a clearance.

60:55

Shot by Garath McCleary went wide of the left-hand post.

60:26

Header by Dan Burn misses to the right of the target.

60:20

Corner from the right by-line taken by Christopher Burke.

59:45

Free kick taken by Paul Caddis.

59:32

The official flags Garath McCleary offside.

58:43

Clearance made by Dan Burn.

58:40

Hal Robson-Kanu delivers the ball.

58:06

Shot by Christopher Burke cleared the bar.

57:58

Shot by Jesse Lingard. Blocked by Chris Gunter.

57:48

Jonathan Spector restarts play with the free kick.

57:32

Handball by Garath McCleary.

57:09

Alex McCarthy restarts play with the free kick.

56:38

The referee blows for offside.

56:08

Alex Pearce makes a clearance.

56:07

The ball is delivered by Christopher Burke.

55:47

Alex Pearce makes a clearance.

55:42

Corner taken by Christopher Burke from the right by-line.

55:17

The ball is crossed by Christopher Burke.

54:51

Paul Caddis takes the free kick.

54:39

The official flags Pavel Pogrebnyak offside.

53:22

Clearance by Wayne Bridge.

53:09

Paul Robinson makes a clearance.

53:01

Alex McCarthy restarts play with the free kick.

52:28

Foul by Jesse Lingard on Chris Gunter, free kick awarded.

51:45

Clearance by Alex Pearce.

51:27

Clearance made by Alex Pearce.

51:22

Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.

50:52

The assistant referee flags for offside against Adam Le Fondre.

50:29

Chris Baird takes the free kick.

50:19

Unfair challenge on Alex Pearce by Matt Green results in a free kick.

50:14

Clearance made by Alex Pearce.

48:19

The ball is sent over by David Murphy.

47:13

Adam Le Fondre has an effort at goal.

47:07

Wayne Bridge crosses the ball.

46:33

Dan Burn makes a clearance.

46:06

Dan Burn makes a clearance.

45:45

Jesse Lingard takes a shot. Alex McCarthy safely holds on.

45:01

The game restarts for the second half.

45:00 +1:06 Half time

Half Time It is the end of the first-half.

45:00 +0:25

Dan Burn makes a clearance.

45:00 +0:18

Alex Pearce manages to make a clearance.

45:00 +0:13

Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.

44:44

Adam Le Fondre is ruled offside.

44:03

Clearance by Alex Pearce.

43:28

Clearance made by David Murphy.

43:13

Clearance made by Dan Burn.

43:10

Chris Gunter sends in a cross.

42:15

David Murphy makes a clearance.

42:04

Clearance by Sean Morrison.

41:12

Wayne Bridge restarts play with the free kick.

40:49

Callum Reilly concedes a free kick for a foul on Hal Robson-Kanu.

39:52

Clearance made by Hal Robson-Kanu.

39:52

The ball is sent over by Christopher Burke.

39:32

Jonathan Spector manages to make a clearance.

38:45

Clearance by Paul Caddis.

38:41

Clearance made by Alex Pearce.

38:38

Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.

38:11

The assistant referee flags for offside against Adam Le Fondre.

37:58

Sean Morrison restarts play with the free kick.

37:46

The official flags Matt Green offside.

37:42

The ball is swung over by Garath McCleary.

37:34

Dan Burn manages to make a clearance.

35:51

Clearance made by Alex Pearce.

35:18

Jesse Lingard takes the chance to get an effort at goal and missed to the left of the net.

35:06

Tom Adeyemi takes a shot. Alex McCarthy makes a block.

34:24

Clearance made by Alex Pearce.

33:53

Adam Le Fondre takes a shot and went wide right of the net.

33:01

Clearance by Dan Burn.

32:54

Clearance by Alex Pearce.

32:50

Darren Randolph takes the free kick.

32:25

The referee blows for offside.

31:59

Clearance by Sean Morrison.

31:18 Goal scored

Goal! - Danny Guthrie - Reading 1 - 0 Birmingham Danny Guthrie hits the back of the net with a direct shot from the free kick. Reading 1-0 Birmingham.

31:06

Danny Guthrie crosses the ball in from the free kick.

30:38

The referee penalises Christopher Burke for handball.

29:57

The ball is delivered by Hal Robson-Kanu.

29:22

Callum Reilly takes a shot. Alex McCarthy blocks the ball.

28:53

Clearance by Sean Morrison.

28:43

Hal Robson-Kanu takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Darren Randolph makes a block.

28:22

Adam Le Fondre produces a cross.

27:41

A cross is delivered by Christopher Burke.

27:25

Clearance by Hal Robson-Kanu.

27:14

Wayne Bridge makes a clearance.

27:11

David Murphy restarts play with the free kick.

26:30

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Callum Reilly by Chris Baird.

25:34

Alex Pearce makes a clearance.

25:27

Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.

24:55

The referee blows for offside.

24:03

Sean Morrison makes a clearance.

23:04

Jonathan Spector makes a clearance.

22:55

Dan Burn makes a clearance.

22:10

Clearance by Alex Pearce.

22:06

Dan Burn makes a clearance.

21:22

Garath McCleary has an effort at goal and missed to the left of the target.

21:13

The ball is delivered by Hal Robson-Kanu.

20:23

Clearance made by Jonathan Spector.

19:53

Free kick taken by Chris Gunter.

19:51

Jesse Lingard gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Chris Baird.

17:07

Clearance made by Alex Pearce.

16:40

Header by Chris Baird misses left.

16:35

Corner from the left by-line taken by Danny Guthrie.

16:11

Clearance by Dan Burn.

16:02

A cross is delivered by Chris Gunter.

15:46

Jonathan Spector makes a clearance.

15:40

Sean Morrison restarts play with the free kick.

15:21

Sean Morrison fouled by Matt Green, the ref awards a free kick.

14:36

Alex Pearce makes a clearance.

14:33

Corner taken by Christopher Burke.

14:07

Christopher Burke takes a shot. Alex Pearce gets a block in.

13:56

Christopher Burke has an effort at goal. Alex McCarthy parries the effort to safety.

13:31

Sean Morrison makes a clearance.

13:13

Tom Adeyemi makes a clearance.

13:04

Pavel Pogrebnyak takes a shot. Darren Randolph blocks the ball.

12:09

Free kick crossed by Danny Guthrie.

11:46

Unfair challenge on Garath McCleary by Jesse Lingard results in a free kick.

11:30

Paul Robinson manages to make a clearance.

10:07

Free kick taken by David Murphy.

9:57

Foul by Garath McCleary on David Murphy, free kick awarded.

9:47

Tom Adeyemi makes a clearance.

9:43

Clearance by Paul Robinson.

8:56

Clearance made by Paul Caddis.

8:20

Matt Green takes a shot and went wide of the right hand upright.

8:16

Chris Gunter makes a clearance.

8:13

Matt Green takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Blocked by Chris Gunter.

7:35

Clearance by Alex Pearce.

7:31

Darren Randolph takes the free kick.

7:05

Adam Le Fondre is ruled offside.

6:23

Jonathan Spector makes a clearance.

5:47

Free kick crossed by Christopher Burke.

5:09

Garath McCleary concedes a free kick for a foul on Jesse Lingard.

4:59

Jonathan Spector takes the free kick.

4:49

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Spector by Pavel Pogrebnyak.

4:33

Clearance by Dan Burn.

2:23

Free kick taken by Paul Robinson.

2:02

Free kick awarded for a foul by Danny Guthrie on Tom Adeyemi.

1:51

Clearance made by Paul Robinson.

1:43

Free kick taken by Alex Pearce.

1:30

Free kick awarded for a foul by Tom Adeyemi on Pavel Pogrebnyak.

1:17

Jonathan Spector makes a clearance.

0:33

Alex Pearce manages to make a clearance.

0:31

The ball is swung over by Callum Reilly.

0:16

Clearance by Alex Pearce.

0:00

The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.

Live data and text provided by our data suppliers