Long Night For Rams
Attendance: 14, 096
Reading claimed their seventh win in nine league outings after an eventful game at the Madejski Stadium. A bright opening from the home side saw Shane Long give them the lead inside the first ten minutes only for Gilles Sunu to score his first goal in a Derby shirt to level the scores. In between those strikes Stephen Bywater was forced off with a back injury to be replaced by Saul Deeney but his Rams debut lasted a total of twenty-eight minutes during which time he was beaten by Jimmy Kebe from close range and was then red-carded after bringing down Jay Tabb after a poor backpass. Robbie Savage nominated himself to take over in goal and made a great save from a Sigurdsson free kick in the second period but was eventually beaten by Ryan Bertrand and a late Simon Church strike saw The Rams on the wrong end of a 4-1 hammering.
Chris Porter was ruled out with a virus so Giles Sunu was brought back into the starting line-up in one of two changes from the side victorious against Watford on Saturday with the youngster lining up on the right side of midfield and Michael Tonge playing a slightly more advanced role through the middle. Jay McEveley also returned at leftback after missing two matches through suspension in place of Dean Moxey.
Reading started the game quickly looking to bounce-back after their second half collapse against Aston Villa in the FA Cup on Sunday and Gylfi Sigurdsson nearly gave them the perfect start but his header from Jimmy Kebe`s right wing cross inside the first minute flew over the bar. The home side were on top and just as The Rams were looking to get a foot hold in the game they found themselves a goal behind on eight minutes. Reading came forward and as the ball broke to Jimmy Kebe he played in Shane Long whose burst of pace took him away from Shaun Barker and he drove the ball low past Stephen Bywater to open the scoring.
The Derby goalkeeper only lasted for another five minutes as he had to be replaced by Saul Deeney on thirteen minutes as the niggling back injury that had been plaguing him for the last few weeks got the better of him. Reading had their tails up and Shaun Barker was on his toes to block Shane Long`s firm strike and it was somewhat against the run of play that The Rams drew level on twenty-one minutes. A purposeful run forward by Stephen Pearson down the left saw the ball break to Gilles Sunu and the Arsenal youngster curled home a delightful finish with the outside of his right foot from the edge of the area to level the scores.
Jimmy Kebe was having a lot of joy down the right with his pace causing problems for Jay McEveley and twice in quick succession he flashed low crosses across the six-yard area only for them to avoid everyone and pass harmlessly out of play on the far side. Saul Deeney made his first save of the night when he was quickly off his line to deny Ryan Bertrand as the youngster broke forward but he was given no chance moments later when Jimmy Kebe was left unchallenged in the area to slam home from close range as the ball reached him. It got worse for the former Burton Albion stopper on forty-one minutes when Jay Tabb was first onto a short backpass and Deeney brought him down, despite the Reading man running away from goal at the time the referee adjudged it to be a professional foul and showed the red card with Robbie Savage eventually taking over in goal. Shane Long stepped up with the resulting spot kick but blazed hopelessly over the top and despite the let off it looked like being a long night for The Rams.
Stephen Pearson and Rob Hulse nearly combined to put Derby back on level terms at the start of the second half when a low cross found the later in area but his effort was blocked at point blank range and the chance was gone. The Rams were understandably looking to be solid at the back and hit Reading on the break and the game tightened up due to this although Savage had to be off his line quickly to smother the ball at the feet of Shane Long as he broke on goal on the hour mark. The stand in keeper then produced a stunning full length save from a Sigurdsson free kick to touch the ball over the top.
Reading`s extra man was starting to tell as the game reached the last twenty minutes and Jimmy Kebe had a stinging volley well saved again by Savage but it was no surprise when the home side extended their lead when Ryan Bertrand struck a rising shot from just inside the area to settle the game and secure the points. The goal killed the game as a contest with both sides taking few chances after that although Stephen Pearson tried his luck with a long-range strike that forced Adam Federici into a fine save and The Rams evening got worse with Simon Church scrambling home a late fourth to give the scoreline a harsh look after another hard working display but there was no arguing with a deserved win for Reading.