Birmingham City and Reading lock horns on Friday evening (20:00), with just three points separating them in the Championship table.
Birmingham are winless in their last three fixtures, while the Royals have recently moved back into eighth spot in the standings with two successive victories.
Draws with Swansea City and Blackpool, as well as a defeat to Sunderland have left the Blues five points adrift of the promotion places coming into this game, and perhaps more alarmingly, they are the same amount above the relegation zone.
Reading have picked up back-to-back wins against Hull City and Coventry City in their last two encounters, so they will come into this game confident they can get a result.
Paul Ince will be aware that a win here could lift the Royals in the playoff places, should other results go their way, as they currently sit two points adrift of the top six.
Birmingham vs Reading Betting Tips:
Krystian Bielik came through 90 minutes against Blackpool after his return from World Cup duty with Poland, and should feature for Birmingham again here.
Fellow World Cup representatives Junior Hoilett, Baba Rahman and Mamadou Loum also featured for Reading versus Coventry, so they will no doubt be involved again on Friday.
Tom Holmes is unlikely to be risked for Reading after suffering a head injury against the Sky Blues, while Paul Ince could have Tom McIntyre and Naby Sarr back at his disposal.
Match Result – Draw @ 11/5
While the race for the playoffs remains as close as ever, both clubs know that they could drop off the pace with a defeat on Friday. With that in mind, I can see a low-scoring affair playing out at St. Andrew’s.
Despite Reading being in better form than their opponents on Friday, they are still not worthy travellers, having lost seven their 11 matches on the road this season.
Birmingham have drawn three of their last five matches at home, so I can see another draw on the cards here.
Scott Hogan to score first @ 9/2
Hogan is Birmingham’s top scorer this season, and joint-top of the Championship scoring standings along with 10 other players, with nine goals.
The Republic of Ireland striker suffered a hamstring injury recently, but Blues boss Josh Eustace has not ruled him out of playing against Reading on Friday night, which is a huge boost for the club given their need for goals at this moment in time.
Five of Hogan’s nine goals this season have been the first of the match, and with over 2.5 goals landing in the last six meetings between these two sides, goals could be on the menu on Friday.