BENCH BRACE: Substitute Jahmari Clarke downs Bowyer’s Blues
PA - John Walton
Teenage substitute Jahmari Clarke scored twice as Reading ended a run of four straight defeats and nearly seven hours without a goal with a 2-1 win in a delayed game against Birmingham at St Andrew’s.
Academy graduate Clarke, 18, equalised in the 70th minute with his first senior goal and then netted again in the 82nd.
Kick-off was delayed for 35 minutes due to a system failure at St Andrew’s which engineers fixed after tickets could not be scanned and CCTV and wifi were affected.
Blues were in a hurry to get started and they took a third-minute lead.
Hogan latched onto an underhit backpass from captain Liam Moore and rounded goalkeeper Luke Southwood before tapping into the empty net.
It was Hogan’s third goal in as many games and his sixth of the season.
Hogan then attempted to turn provider with a cross intended for Troy Deeney that needed to be pushed over the bar by Southwood.
Reading, who have 16 players out injured, worked themselves back into the game and were a threat for the final hour of the game.
After a superb sliding tackle by Marc Roberts to stop George Puscas, John Swift’s free-kick was blocked by the defensive wall before Tom Dele-Bashiru sliced wide from long range.
Reading continued to battle for something from the game throughout the second half.
Andy Yiadom saw a fiercely hit cross flash across the face of goal with no one to apply the final touch and was inches away with a low drive from the edge of the box.
In between, Blues returned to the attack and Riley McGree hit a rising 25-yard drive that flew narrowly over the bar.
Blues remained dangerous however and Jeremie Bela went desperately close with a curling shot that sailed just wide after he cut in from the left.
Reading equalised when Clarke – a half-time substitute for Puscas – planted a bullet header into the net from Swift’s cross.
The goal ended a run of 409 minutes without a goal for the Royals.
Blues went for the winner and Deeney sent a diving header against a post from Bela’s cross.
But Clarke had other ideas and smashed home with eight minutes to go after his first shot was blocked by goalkeeper Matija Sarkic.
Deeney’s header was deflected wide from another Bela cross as Blues piled forward again in search of an equaliser.
But Reading held on for three precious points and a first win since October 16.
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