Birmingham City 2 Reading 1
When Steve Bruce plans his team's itinerary for the coming months, a visit to Stoke City in the fifth round of the FA Cup is unlikely to be afforded much significance.
Yet, with more pressing matters like Premiership survival to deal with, Birmingham earned themselves the dubious luxury of a trip to the Britannia Stadium thanks to goals by Mikael Forssell and Julian Gray.
The Finn claimed only his third goal of the season to give his side a first-half lead - a strike that owed as much to endeavour as skill - and, although Stephen Hunt levelled, City's lowest crowd of the season were spared extra time by Gray's headed winner.
All in all it was an occasion best consigned to the programme collection for, in the greater scheme of things - unless they win it - few will remember Birmingham's progress in this competition at the end of the season.
Birmingham, who began the game with six changes to the side that lost to Arsenal at the weekend, started like a team that didn't fancy the Cup at all.
Certainly, the makeshift centre-backs, Alex Bruce and Marcos Painter, looked decidedly coy in each other's company, somewhat surprising perhaps given the fact they have played reserve-team football together for the past three months.
Yet they completely lost Dave Kitson in the sixth minute when Steve Sidwell threaded a pass between the two defenders.
Kitson had just enough pace to stay clear of his pursuers but not the poise to complete his mission and he hooked his drive narrowly wide with only Maik Taylor to beat.
The hosts had to wait another eight minutes for their first meaningful attempt on goal. Jermaine Pennant, who with Jiri Jarosik was the source of most of Birmingham's good work, slid and turned two markers and picked out Jamie Clapham on the edge of the penalty area.
The part-time midfielder took his opportunity with all the aplomb of a man who has spent most of his career at left-back.
As Kitson continued to offer an aerial threat at one end, so Jarosik looked to make silk purses at the other, nevertheless it was still something of a surprise when the deadlock was broken.
Half an hour had gone when Pennant probed off his wing and rolled the ball into Forssell's feet. The striker showed admirable dexterity with his first touch and commendable determination to barge his second and third through Graham Stack in the visitors' goal.
That energised the rest of the half. Reading could and then should have been level a minute later as Sidwell latched on to an ineffectual clearance and thumped a first-time effort onto the foot of Taylor's post.
The ball rebounded to Kitson who, despite his 13 goals already this season, managed to hit Taylor and not the back of the net. To be fair to the Northern Ireland international it was the sort of save on which long Cup runs are built.
Jarosik had Stack scrambling five minutes before the break when his 25-yarder dipped just in front of the Reading goalkeeper and Mathew Birley - an academy product making his first senior start - wasted a decent opening on the left wing when he failed to pick out a team-mate.
If Birmingham thought they had done enough, though, they were mistaken. Steve Coppell's men began the second period looking the more cohesive and, after sending over a couple of exploratory centres, they struck back.
Only five minutes had gone when City's porous rearguard was punished. Reading humped a hopeful pass forward but instead of acting decisively Bruce allowed the ball to bounce and Hunt to nod into space before lashing home an unstoppable volley.
Bruce the younger held his head in his hands, Bruce the elder shook his in disbelief.
To their credit Birmingham responded well and carved out a couple of decent chances before they eventually retook the lead.
Jarosik was put through by Pennant but shot straight at Stack before Julian Gray was presented with a gift at the back post but smashed well over.
He was not so profligate midway through the half when Jarosik found himself a free inch deep in the area and turned back inside. He scooped a sumptuous cross, again to the back stick, where the former Crystal Palace man headed down and in from close range.
Although it was Reading who needed the equaliser Birmingham looked more likely to score. Pennant fed Gray along the wing but his cutback was wasted by Jarosik and Forssell. No matter, Birmingham were through, whether they like it or not.