KUSZCZAK IS THE STAR FOR BLUES
BIRMINGHAM boss Gary Rowett conceded his team were fortunate to make a winning start to the new season and owed a debt of gratitude to a former St Andrew’s villain Tomasz Kuszczak.
A decade ago 33-year-old Kuszczak was lining up down the road for West Brom, but a last-gasp save on his debut, following his summer move from Wolves, saw the Blues off to the perfect start.
And Rowett acknowledged his team had a lucky escape.
“But for a piece of brilliant goalkeeping from Tomasz Kuszczak we would be talking a draw here instead of a good start to the season,” said the former Burton boss.
“It was a great game for the neutral, particularly in the second half which was more open.
“We started well, played decent football and deserved to be ahead. But one of our problems is we tend to drop into a little complacency, we did and Reading made us pay.
“I have told the players we can’t get ourselves in the situation we did, letting the opposition get in the positions they did and run at us the way they did when defending a slim lead in time added.
“To a certain degree we were lucky to get all three points.”
The new season was less than a minute old when the highly-rated Demarai Gray cut in from the left only for his low drive to be deflected behind off Michael Hector.
Busy and brisk in both thought and interplay having weathered the early storm, Reading grew in confidence.
Orlando Sa was fouled by by onloan Arsenal midfielder Jon Toral. Oliver Norwood took the resultant freekick and his rising effort tarnished the fresh paint on Kuszczak’s crossbar.
Reading came close to taking the lead when Sa’s close-range effort was parried by Kuszczak and the loose ball sent into orbit courtesy of Michael Morrison.
The home side took the lead following a foul on Clayton Donaldson. The lively David Cotterill took it upon himself to take the free-kick and his 20-yard effort clipped a shoulder in the Reading wall and was still rising when it evaded the prodigious leap of Jonathan Bond.
Birmingham picked up the same script in the second period and were rewarded for their positive approach in the 47th minute. Hector wanted too much time on the ball, Donaldson picked his pocket and his pinpoint cross from the left was headed unerringly home by the towering Toral.
Reading refused to wilt and cut back the deficit with a finely worked goal on 58 minutes. Chris Gunter’s well-measured cross from the right being firmly met by Nick Blackman’s forehead.
Desperate to retrieve something, Reading were given hope five minutes into added time when Jonathan Spector was adjudged to have fouled substitute Simon Cox inside the box.
Up-stepped Sa, but his spot-kick was brilliantly parried by Kuszczak at the foot of his post and Cox skewed the rebound across the face of goal.
“I’m very disappointed to play the way we did and come away with nothing,” said Reading boss Steve Clarke. “Their first goal took a deflection. Ok their second came from a mistake by one of our defenders, but overall I felt we deserved at least a point.
“We had 20 efforts at goal, which tells its own story. As for the penalty miss and subsequent miss from the rebound, yes, that was disappointing and cost us.
“This is a very competitive league, arguably more competitive than the Premier League because no one can safely predict who will finish in the top six. Every game will be close. “If I have one message for Reading fans it is, we will play worse than that and win this season.”
CURLER: David Cotterill opens the scoring with a fine free-kick
STAR MAN JON TORAL Birmin