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Rupert Wyman 19th Dec 2008 - 13:09

Reading hunting for victory

The Hunt brothers time and time again this season have scored the goals to fire Reading to victory. On Saturday Reading travel to St Andrews to face Birmingham in a key clash at the top of the Championship.

Reading sit in third, one point behind Birmingham in second. It has mainly been Reading's away form that has prevented the Royals from being closer to top-of-the-table Wolves and Birmingham.

Steve Coppell's side have only won four of their 11 matches away from home, whereas at the Madjeski they have won 10 out of 12 matches.

However the Royals have not lost in four away matches including winning at Bramall Lane against Sheffield United and drawing at Cardiff. Therefore there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Reading are starting to click away from their Berkshire home.

It is for this reason that the 7/4 about an away win appeals so much over 5/4 about a home win for Birmingham. The draw can be backed at 11/5.

Birmingham's record at home this season - although impressive - has been blighted by some surprising defeats.

The Blues have lost at St. Andrews to both Blackpool and Coventry. They come into Saturday's match following a disappointing defeat away at Preston last week and two narrow wins prior to that against Plymouth and Watford.

There is no doubting the quality in Alex McLeish's squad but sometimes this season their performances have lacked the quality and ruthlessness displayed by leaders Wolves and Reading.

This is evidenced in the goal difference column in the table. Wolves have an impressive +23, Reading an outstanding +27 yet Birmingham's goal difference stands at just +12.

Nevertheless Birmingham's team is full of experience and know-how and this more often than not has led to victories.

Reading have been frequent scorers this season. Kevin Doyle tops the goal scoring charts at the club as well as in the league with 15 goals in the Championship. After him strike-partner Noel Hunt has eight to his name with brother Stephen on six.

At the start of the season most people would have predicted that it would be Birmingham out-scoring everyone but this has not happened, with Alex McLeish often struggling to find his first-choice front pairing.

The Reading attack in all likelihood will be too much for Birmingham's defence to handle especially when you consider that Reading went to Molineux earlier in the season and easily dispatched of Wolves 3-0.

Kevin Doyle is 7/4 to score at anytime during the match but fellow Irishman and forward Noel Hunt looks a better bet at 2/1. Stephen Hunt is a 7/2 shot to score within the 90 minutes.

Whatever happens during the match it promises to be a cracking advert for Championship football as two of last year's relegated Premier League sides battle it out in a key match in the promotion race.

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