Rams Downed By Royals
Attendance: 21, 902
Derby County fell to a 2-1 defeat to playoff bound Reading at the Madejski Stadium to end their 2010/11 campaign. Nigel Clough gave games to youngsters Ross Atkins and Callum Ball as he made changes for the final day and they both acquitted themselves well despite the loss. Ian Harte gave the home side the lead from the spot only for the returning Jamie Ward to level the scores with a swerving effort from twenty-five yards. Ball was denied a goal when the flag went up for offside and Harte had the chance to put his side back in front in first half injury time but his second penalty struck the post. The second half lacked in chances compared to the first with both sides having little to play for and Hal Robson-Kanu gave his side the lead again with a deflected effort with just under twenty minutes to go. Substitute Jeff Hendrick, another youngster, came on for the last ten minutes and had a firm effort well save by Adam Federici but Derby couldn`t find a second equaliser and fell to another reverse to end the season.
Youth prospects Ross Atkins and Callum Ball were given starts in place of Brad Jones and Steve Davies whilst Dean Leacock lined-up at leftback in place of Gareth Roberts and Jamie Ward came in in place of Theo Robinson as Nigel Clough made changes for the final match of the season. Robbie Savage lead The Rams out for the final time as captain but it was Reading who had the first chance of the game on ten minutes when Mathieu Manset found himself with only Atkins to beat but he lifted the ball over the keeper and the bar. Simon Church was next to threaten when his shot from the edge of the area beat Atkins but struck the bar and bounced away to safety.
Savage picked up a booking for pulling back Ian Harte but The Rams survived the resultant freekick and James Bailey cleared from the six-yard box. As the home side continued to press they took the lead on twenty-four minutes when a foul on Church in the area by Daniel Ayala saw the referee point to the spot and Harte drove the penalty low to Atkins left to open the scoring. Derby responded well to the setback and were back on level terms eight minutes later when Jamie Ward`s swerving effort from twenty-five yards beat Adam Federici and found the far corner of the net.
Ball almost put Derby in front a few minutes later with a firm effort from outside the box but he was off target and Ward tried his luck from the edge of the area again but his shot flew just over. In a dramatic end to the half Ball had the ball in the net in the final minute only to be denied by the offside flag and at the other end Reading were awarded a second penalty when Ayala fouled Michail Antonio in the area. Harte`s kick was low to Atkins left again but this time the ball struck the post and was cleared to safety and The Rams survived to the break.
Ben Davies came on in place of Stephen Pearson just before the hour mark as the second half saw chances at a premium but his introduction gave his side a boost and he twice cut in from the left only for Federici to turn his shots away. Reading re-took the lead with a little under twenty minutes to go when Derby failed to clear their lines and Hal Robson-Kanu`s effort was deflected beyond the reach of Atkins from just inside the area. Jeff Hendrick and Conor Doyle came off the bench in place of Alberto Bueno and James Bailey in the closing stages and they helped Derby to produce some neat passages of play although they didn`t take advantage of some promising permissions until Hendrick had an effort well saved by Federici after good work from Davies. The Rams couldn`t find a way back into the match and fell to a fourth straight defeat to end a disappointing campaign.
Reading: Federici, Mills, Tabb, Leigertwood (Gunnarsson 71), Antonio (Taylor 58), Church, Robson-Kanu, Harte, Cummings, Pearce, Manset (Hunt 78).
Subs: Long, Howard, McCarthy, Morrison
Derby County: Atkins, Brayford, Anderson, Ayala, Leacock, Savage, Bailey (Doyle 81), Bueno (Hendrick 81), Pearson (B Davies 58), Ward, Ball.
Subs: Jones, S Davies, Addison, Porter.