Garry Monk plays down Birmingham’s top-six credentials

Boss Garry Monk played down Birmingham’s top-six credentials after they extended their unbeaten run to 10 games with a 2-1 victory over Reading.

Gary Gardner’s first Blues goal and Lukas Jutkiewicz’s seventh of the season lifted the hosts to ninth in the Sky Bet Championship – a point behind the play-offs.

Yakou Meite struck in stoppage time at St Andrew’s but Reading slipped to 21st, two points above the bottom three.

It is the first time Birmingham, who have the threat of a points deduction hanging over them for breaching Financial Fair Play rules, have reached the top half since August 2017.

Monk, who was only allowed to sign five players in the summer under EFL sanctions, 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.”

Reading gifted Birmingham an early second-half corner to allow Gardner – on loan from rivals Aston Villa – to score and Jutkiewicz’s superb header made it 2-0 with 20 minutes remaining.

Meite’s late strike was just a consolation, although Reading earlier hit a post through Liam Kelly and saw Maikel Kieftenbeld nearly score an own goal.

Boss Paul Clement said: “It was a very frustrating evening. We’re disappointed not to come away with anything and we made a couple of mistakes.

“Birmingham are really good at setting themselves up to prey on the opposition making errors but we’ve gifted them.

“We’ve done some things well offensively and with a bit more cutting edge we could have had more than the one goal, but overall it was mistakes which cost us.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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