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Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Alamy Stock Photo Paul Ince (file pic).
# Comeback
Paul Ince makes winning return to management
Lucas Joao and John Swift scored second-half goals in a 2-1 Reading win.

PAUL INCE successfully resumed his managerial career after an absence of more than eight years when the new interim boss of Reading saw his relegation-threatened Championship side win 2-1 over Birmingham.

Ince, the 54-year-old former Manchester United and England midfielder, had not taken charge of a game since leaving Blackpool in January 2014.

Birmingham dominated much of the first half, with Reading attacking only on the break, but neither goal was seriously threatened in a tame affair.

Reading eased 2-0 ahead midway through the second period through Lucas Joao and a John Swift penalty, but a late own goal from Tom McIntyre made for a tense finish.

Veljko Paunovic, the Reading manager, had left by mutual consent on Saturday shortly after the 3-2 victory at Preston – the team’s first win in 12 league matches.

Ince, also formerly manager of Macclesfield, MK Dons, Blackburn and Notts County, was appointed as interim boss alongside Michael Gilkes, the Berkshire club’s academy director.

Reading, without a victory in 10 home league matches, started brightly as Ince patrolled his technical area.

Joao made a strong run from deep but his pass to winger Tom Ince – son of the new boss and on loan from Stoke – carried too much weight and City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge gathered easily.

Birmingham gradually made some headway only for Jordan James to send a tame header at home keeper Karl Hein and then Juninho Bacuna saw a well-struck shot deflected wide.

Lyle Taylor fashioned an even better opening but his 20-yarder lack precision and Hein saved comfortably.

Reading relied mostly on the counter-attack, a fine run from Junior Hoilett ended only by Kristian Pedersen’s late challenge.

Hoilett then crossed cleverly from the left but Tom Ince volleyed wildly over at the far post.

Birmingham grabbed the initiative after the interval but, for all their endeavours going forward, they created little of note.

Once they did find their range, Hein had to save smartly to deny James.

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Reading responded with good work on the left from Swift but from his incisive pass, Tom Ince scuffed an attempt at Etheridge.

It was from more deft work by Swift – as he released Joao – that Reading went ahead in the 67th minute.

Joao cut inside the City area before curling a low effort past the despairing dive of Etheridge for his fifth goal in seven games.

Six minutes later, Reading made it 2-0. Onel Hernandez clipped the overlapping Andy Yiadom and Swift tucked in his 11th goal of the campaign from the spot.

City cut the deficit in the 82nd minute, when Hein tipped a Hernandez cross on to a post and the ball rebounded in off team-mate McIntyre.

But Reading managed to hold on for the much-needed victory.

Author
Press Association
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