Reading drop into bottom three after draw with Birmingham
Reading suffered a further Championship setback following their six-point deduction in midweek when they could only manage a tame 1-1 home draw with Birmingham to slip into the relegation zone.
Andy Carroll gave Reading an early lead from close range but Blues levelled just before the half-hour mark through a towering Lukas Jutkiewicz header.
A scrappy second half, with neither side displaying any real control, petered out into a draw that the hosts may live to regret later in the campaign.
Reading lost six points on Tuesday when the EFL ruled they had breached the business plan agreed between the two parties.
It dropped the side from 18th place – and the relative safety of seven points clear of the relegation zone – to 20th and just one point off the drop.
Reading, without a win in six games, also had to contend with nine senior players absent due to injury, including nine-goal top scorer Tom Ince, and also were without suspended midfielder Mamadou Loum.
Birmingham had been on a run of three wins in their past four matches and it was they who started the stronger in the Berkshire sunshine, with Reda Khadra particularly prominent on the left flank.
But their efforts proved fruitless and Reading responded positively and went ahead in the seventh minute after a superbly worked move.
Cesare Casadei found Lucas Joao in the Birmingham area and the Angola striker’s clever back-flick was despatched first time by Carroll for his eighth goal of the season.
Birmingham’s attempts to fashion an equaliser were mostly disjointed but Krystian Bielik did test home goalkeeper Joe Lumley with a low drive from the edge of the area.
City’s gathering momentum paid off just before the half-hour when Jutkiewicz rose in front of Naby Sarr to power home a header from Khadra’s precise cross.
Reading made the more promising start to the second half but their pressure failed to reap its reward, with Jeff Hendrick wasting a chance from an Amadou Mbengue long throw.
Yakou Meite then made a searching run along the right wing but no team-mate was on hand in the six-yard box to turn in his excellent low cross.
Birmingham appeared content to settle for a point and their forward intentions were restricted to the occasional quick break.
However, from one of them they almost went in front, Lumley having to save smartly from Tahith Chong at his near post.
That was followed by an unexpected three-minute break as referee Scott Oldham, who had apparently sustained an injury, was replaced by fourth official Jeremy Simpson.
After the delay, Reading did push for a much-needed winner near the end but the closest they came was when substitute Femi Azeez drove narrowly wide.