READING crashed to a fourth defeat in five Championship games after a 2-0 home loss to bottom club Birmingham City.

The Blues had not scored more than one goal in any game this season until strikes from Jacques Maghoma and Sam Gallagher in each half secured victory for Steve Cotterill’s visitors tonight.

It was also the first time relegation-haunted Blues had strung back-to-back wins together all season following their victory against Leeds United on Saturday.

Reading, though, must be wondering where the next points are coming from after another lacklustre display at Madejski Stadium.

Stam’s men could not be faulted for a lack of effort, but they did not possess the composure or cutting edge to find a way back after Maghoma’s opener on 24 minutes.

The defeat will have done little to raise confidence in Stam’s long term prospects either after a section of fans appeared to turn on their manager when Gallagher slotted Blues’ second in the 65th minute.

Yann Kermorgant did hit the bar with a deflected shot in the closing stages, but by them Birmingham were already on course for a victory that will boost their hopes of survival.

Royals, though, are looking over their shoulders as they slipped to 18th in the table and a mere four points above the drop zone after a worrying run of six matches without a win.

Stam made three changes from the side that drew 1-1 at Barnsley including a rare Championship start for Pelle Clement – the Dutch midfielder’s first since a 2-1 win against Aston Villa at Madejski Stadium back in August.

Leandro Bacuna and Sone Aluko also returned to the starting line-up, while Garath McCleary and Tyler Blackett dropped to the bench and Dave Edwards was left out altogether.

Reading quickly settled into their stride and carved out a clear opening in the fourth minute.

Aluko won a foot race with Jonathan Grounds and whipped over a teasing cross from the right – but neither Kermorant nor Mo Barrow could apply the finishing touch.

Then two minutes later Barrow’s stinging drive on the angle was blocked by Dave Stockdale at his near post, with Kermorgant nodding over from Swift’s corner kick.

Royals kept up the pressure as Gunter went close on 13 minutes with a rasping drive that Stockdale tipped over after excellent work from Bacuna in the build-up.

But eight minutes later Stockdale needed two attempts to swat Aluko’s low shot out for a corner with Barrow bearing own on the Blues stopper.

Yet all of Reading’s good work was tossed away in the 24th minute when the visitors  - the lowest scorers in the top four divisions - snatched the lead.

Skipper Paul McShane gave a free-kick away on the left and Royals failed to defend Craig Gardner’s cross, the ball falling at the feet of Maghoma who smashed it in from eight yards out.

And it almost became 2-0 to Birmingham 10 minutes before half time when David Davis sent Gallagher clean through on goal.

But Vito Mannone made himself big and blocked the Blues’ striker’s shot to the relief of the home side.

Mannone reacted with a furious blast aimed at his defenders such was the frustration felt around the ground.

Royals hit back three minutes before the break when Aluko’s effort was scrambled away by Stockdale after Gunter had nodded Bacuna’s cross into the path of the Reading winger.

But the Blues held out until the interval and Royals left the field with boos ringing in their ears.

Stam reacted with a change at the break as Blackett came on for Joey van den Berg for the second half.

But Cotterill’s side continued to pose a threat as Harlee Dean headed narrowly over from a corner with 57 minutes gone.

Royals almost levelled three minutes later in spectacular fashion, Kermorgant seeing a scissors kick bounce a yard wide with Stockdale beaten after Gunter had set him up.

But a rotten night got a whole lot worse when Birmingham scored a second midway through the second half.

John Swift coughed up possession, Maghoma slipped in Gallagher who arrowed a skidding shot past Mannone and into the far corner.

‘Sacked in the morning’ came the chant from a section of Reading fans aimed in Stam’s direction.

Royals kept plugging away and went close in the 70th minute when Clement’s crisp strike forced a strong, one-handed save from Stockdale.

Gallagher replied at the other end when he smacked an effort over the bar from just outside Royals’ box.

Then with 10 minutes to go Jeremie Boga weaved his way into the Reading box only to see his shot deflected over for a corner from which Gallagher’s header was cleared off the line by the alert Kermorgant.

Kermorgant almost snatched one back in the 89th minute with a deflected effort that looped over Stockdale and against the crossbar, but it was too little too late from the home side.

Reading turn their attentions to the FA Cup this Saturday and a third-round trip to Stevenage (3pm).