Birmingham City 2-1 Reading: Lee Bowyer starts Birmingham reign off with win over Royals
Lee Bowyer, Manager of Birmingham City celebrates their first goal scored by Lukas Jutkiewicz (not in picture) during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Reading at St Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium on March 17, 2021 in Birmingham, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Lee Bowyer opened his Birmingham City account as a manager with all three points as they beat Reading 2-1 at St Andrew's.

Goals from Lukas Jutkiewicz and Harlee Dean gave the home side their first victory in three games, with Dean scoring after Yakou Meite's equaliser.

Bowyer took charge of his first game in charge after leaving Charlton Athletic to replace Aitor Karanka, who was sacked on Tuesday.

After a slow first half which ended in a stalemate, Reading started to push on in the second half for a winner, as they look to consolidate a place in the top six.

But against the run of play, Harlee Dean's header gave Birmingham victory.

This victory puts Birmingham six points clear of the relegation zone, whilst Reading's loss leaves them two points clear of seventh.

Story of the match

Lee Bowyer, taking charge of his first game as Blues boss after the sacking of Aitor Karanka, made two changes from Saturday's 0-3 loss at home to Bristol City, with Ivan Sunjic and Ivan Sanchez making way for Lukas Jutkiewicz and Gary Gardner

Veljko Paunovic made one change after their 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest on the weekend, with Yakou Meite coming in for a first start since the reverse fixture, in which he scored, but Reading lost.

The first action from the game was a goal for the home side when a Jeremie Bela cross came in from the left-hand side, and the returning Jutkiewicz got over Liam Moore and managed to nod in from close range to give him his 50th goal for the club, giving Birmingham a crucial lead after just four minutes.

After the goal, it was a quiet first half-hour, with both sides creating little chances in what started out as a dire affair.

But in the 31st minute, Yakou Meite struck a free-kick from just over 20 yards out, only for Neil Etheridge to make a fantastic save, tipping the ball over the crossbar.

Then just three minutes later, the away side got the equaliser they were looking for when Meite headed in at the back post after Etheridge failed to claim the cross.

The second half started slowly but Reading had a penalty shout denied when Gary Gardner appeared to kick Lucas Joao in the leg as they both challenged for the ball, however, referee Andy Woolmer did not think anything of it.

Then in the 71st minute, with Reading on top, Birmingham struck again, this time through centre-back Harlee Dean, who got his head on the ball from a corner and got it to loop into the top left corner, to restore the Blues lead.

With under 15 minutes for Reading to find another equaliser, they came close through Michael Olise, who hit it on the half-volley from the edge of the area, only to force Etheridge into making another save, before he poked it away before George Puscas could get on the follow-up.

After huffing and puffing for an equaliser, the Royals couldn't quite get the goals they so desperately needed to give them a point.

Man of the match

Harlee Dean (Birmingham City)

The centre-back was fantastic on the night, scoring Birmingham's second and making more clearances than any other Birmingham player.