Reading fan Tom Amies gives his verdict following Reading's defeat to Birmingham City at the Madejski Stadium.

A poor game between Reading and Birmingham, made worse by a shambolic refereeing performance from Tim Robinson.

Don’t get me wrong, the Royals were very poor, but they weren’t helped by several key decisions going against them straight from the first whistle. Unfortunately, due to some questionable tactical decisions, Mark Bowen should be held accountable for the Royals’ poor performance. 

Personally, I think Mark Bowen’s decision to start McCleary and Meite was the wrong decision and unfortunately Meite proved me right. He lost the ball several times, threw himself on the floor at any opportunity, and his only positive was his 45th minute goal. 

Gareth McCleary was slightly better than Meite, however he still didn’t fill the Ejaria-sized hole in the Reading side.

One positive for McCleary, however, was the amount of times he tried to drive at players, something we haven’t seen from him since the 2016/17 season. That being said, I still believe Lucas Boye and Lucas Joao would have been better from the get-go. 

The major talking point from a Reading perspective, other than the questionable starting line-up, was Bowen’s decision to remove Matt Miazga at half-time which I feel changed the game for the Royals.

Andy Yiadom and Omar Richards were given more defensive responsibilities, which then meant they weren’t as effective going forward.

The lack of attacking threat going forward resulted in the ball being lumped up to George Puscas far too often and being dispossessed. The tactical substitution also left the midfield significantly overrun, which effectively gave Birmingham the game. 

At the end of the day, we can’t expect everything to go our way, and we had our fair share of luck last Saturday at Wigan, so I think the Royals need to take this one on the chin, and pick themselves back up for Wednesday against Barnsley.

I don’t envy Mark Bowen at all; he was chucked into a side that will inevitably be fighting relegation again, however he did have a bit of a nightmare with his selections today.

Let’s hope he makes up for that with a convincing win at Oakwell.