Another Come From Behind Win
Attendance: 30, 174
Rob Hulse netted his sixth goal of the season as The Rams came from a goal down to beat ten men for the second home game in succession as they held on to beat fellow strugglers Reading in an important clash at the wrong end of the table. Gylfi Sigurdsson gave the visitor`s the lead just before the hour mark after a poor clearance but Paul Green struck back for Derby less than five minutes later and Rob Hulse turned a Jay McEveley cross into the net from close range to complete the turnaround. Reading`s cause was not helped by the sending off of Shane Long when he lunged into a tackle with Frederik Stoor and a late spell of pressure saw Stephen Bywater twice called into action to prevent Brendan Rodgers` side claiming an equaliser but The Rams hung on to inch away from the bottom three.
Nigel Clough made three changes to the side beaten at Swansea last week with Dean Moxey dropping to the bench to be replaced by Jay McEveley, Stephen Pearson coming in for Bryan Hughes, who returned to Hull after his loan spell, and Paul Dickov replacing Jake Livermore as Derby reverted to a 4-4-2 formation as they so often do at Pride Park. Grzegorz Rasiak was named amongst the substitutes for Reading and received a warm reception on his return to Pride Park.
The game started at a lively pace with both sides looking to gain the early advantage and Jobi McAnuff had Stephen Bywater scrambling across his goal when he cut inside from the left but the ball flashed wide of the near post and Adam Federici had to make two hurried clearances at the other end under pressure from Paul Dickov. Jem Karacan was introduced as an early substitute in place of Brian Howard after the midfielder went down in his own area defending a cross after appearing to receive a blow to the head.
The injury delay disrupted the game a little but Gary Teale was next to threaten when he hit a powerful drive from just outside of the penalty area that Federici turned over at full stretch and Paul Dickov came close with a turn and shot from twenty yards that Federici again got his finger tips to and turned behind for a corner. Reading were looking lively on the break although the final ball was not quite there to release McAnuff and Kebe down the wings on a couple of occasions as they looked to be in dangerous positions and Derby were unable to carve out any further chances as the sides went in goalless at halftime after a fast paced first period.
The second half got underway with the introduction of Shane Long up front for the visitor`s and he looked lively chasing down a number of lost causes and forcing some hurried clearances but both sides were struggling to find their rhythm in the early stages. Reading took the lead on fifty-six minutes when Shaun Barker tried to play his way out of trouble at the back but his ball to Gary Teale was just in front of the winger and Jay Tabb intercepted. The fullback ran at goal and after he broke a tackle on the edge of the area Gylfi Sigurdsson found himself in far too much room and made no mistake finishing low to Bywater`s left and in off the post.
The goal could have knocked Derby`s confidence but if anything it seemed to wake them up and they were back on level terms only four minutes later after some neat build-up play down the left. A clever reverse ball from Paul Dickov found Gary Teale in yards of space inside the area and he fired in a low cross that was met by Paul Green, arriving late in the area, to side foot home from inside the six yard box to even the scores. Green could have made it two moments later when Dickov found him in the area but he opted to take a touch and dragged his shot wide as he was closed down by the Reading defence when a first time shot may have been the better option.
The Rams could sense the victory was now there for the taking and Rob Hulse was next to threaten when he hit a dropping ball on the turn although it was a comfortable save for Federici in truth but the goalkeeper had no chance on seventy-three minutes when the same man turned home a McEveley cross from close range. Gary Teale found Jay McEveley with a neat back heel down the left and his inviting cross into the six yard area presented Hulse with the chance and he simply guided the ball past Federici for a 2-1 lead.
Reading had brought on Grzegorz Rasiak just prior to the goal as they looked to gain a priceless three points of their own but they were reduced to ten men with ten minutes to play. Shane Long was not awarded a free kick after a challenge and his frustration showed as he lunged into a tackle with Frederik Stoor as the Swede cleared and the referee was left with little option other than to show the red card for his late challenge.
Jake Livermore came on for Stoor who briefly came back on but was unable to continue and he joined Miles Addison on the pitch who had replaced Paul Dickov as Nigel Clough looked to keep hold of the lead. The change gave Reading room to push forward as The Rams sat back and they had to defend a number of balls into area as the game reached the final moments. Stephen Bywater was twice called into action to make sharp saves from McAnuff and Pearce in a nervy ending but The Rams had just about enough to hold on and claim the victory, an important one with the visit of West Bromwich Albion next Saturday looking like being a stern test.