Derby County 2-1 Reading
Derby’s topsy-turvy season continues as they claimed there 6th home win of the campaign with a good victory against Reading.
The visitors came into the game with a good record at Pride Park but much has changed since their last visit to the East Midlands. Reading have suffered a dramatic change in fortunes and now find themselves on the edge of the relegation zone; thankfully for Derby this victory lifts them back into mid-table however they will not push on from here without improvements away from home. With six wins at home Derby have made Pride Park something of a fortress but away from home they continue to search for their first victory after 9 games.
The match itself was something of a drab affair in the first half with both teams struggling to retain possession and create any clear chances. Gary Teale had Derby’s best effort with a dipping 25 yard strike which Adam Federici easily tipped over the bar on 20 minutes; Paul Dickov had a shot on 35 minutes but a deflection saw it go well wide; Reading failed to test Stephen Bywater although they did have a few goalmouth scrambles which Derby handled well.
The second half benefitted from a goal in the first ten minutes, awful defending by Shaun Barker gave the ball away to Gylfi Sigurdsson who found the bottom corner of Derby’s net from 10 yards out. This goal sparked the game into life and Derby showed glimpses of quality which gave encouragement to another 30,000+ home crowd. And four minutes later the home side’s first decent passing move in a dangerous position resulted in an equalised. Paul Dickov released Gary Teale down the left wing who fizzed his cross along the six yard line for Paul Green to get on the end of and tap into the net. And 13 minutes later they recreated the move to grab a crucial winner; this time a neat back-heel from Gary Teale released Jay McEveley down the left and his low cross found Rob Hulse who tapped home from 5 yards. That wasn’t the end of the incidents though, with ten minutes to go Reading striker Shane Long made a reckless lunge on Frederik Stoor catching him late which resulted in referee Andy Haines giving him a straight red card. That should have been game over for the Royals but a controversial decision by Derby manager Nigel Clough to take off Paul Dickov and Paul Green and bring on two defenders saw the Rams invite 15 minutes of pressure which very nearly resulted in a Reading equaliser. In injury time Stephen Bywater was called into action to make two saves to deny the visitors. As the final whistle blew there was delight around Pride Park to get the three points but criticism for Nigel Clough for his substitutions which made the last 10 minutes while winning against 10 men at home very nervy.
Derby entertain front runners West Bromwich Albion next weekend and will have to be at the top of their game to get anything from the match. They will certainly have to retain possession better, and will not be able to invite pressure on themselves the way they did with Reading in this match.
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