“In the end, we’re happy with a point because we didn’t want to lose. But before the game we only wanted a win, we wanted to go for our chances, play how we want and go for the three points. We couldn’t succeed in that.”– Reading Manager Jaap Stam
“I thought the perforance deserved more, especially in the second half in which we dominated proceedings and shown what a good team we are.”– Derby County Player Alex Pearce
A late George Evans goal was enough to extend Reading’s unbeaten home run on Saturday as they drew 1-1 with Derby County. The Royals found themselves behind when a deft Matej Vydra flick went past Ali Al-Habsi in goal. In the dying minutes Derby were unable to deal with a corner and Evans fired home to equal the scoreline. Reading now go into the international break with a good home record and eighth in the Championship table.
Jaap Stam made two changes to the starting eleven prior to the game with Garath McCleary returning from suspension and Danny Williams deemed fit enough to return from his knock. Sandro Wieser was the new face on the bench, having not featured for the club so far this season.
The tale of the first half was very familiar to those in attendance at the Madejski. Reading kept possession, slowly moved the ball around and did not create many opportunities in front of goal. Derby were defending well, with crosses being cleared and shots being blocked frequently.
Yann Kermorgant had the first opportunity of the game when his shot from the edge of the area went inches wide of the bottom corner of the goal. Tom Ince had his own shot from distance which was held by Ali Al-Habsi at the second attempt.
The best opportunity of the half came late on when McCleary floated a corner into the area. Kermorgant powered a header goalwards but it was directly at Scott Carson in the Derby goal. Directed anywhere else in the goal and you would feel that the Royals would have taken the lead before half-time. That said, the scoreline remained goalless at the break after a generally uneventful half.
Defensively so far this season Reading have been generally strong. The arrival of Liam Moore in particular has been a boost with the centre-back being a rock for the side consistently. It was the defender who put in a vital tackle early on in the second-half. A loose touch from Paul McShane at the back almost allowed Matej Vydra through on goal. Moore slid in expertly to deny him any opportunity of scoring, taking his fellow defender out in the process.
In recent games there has been a trend of the Reading squad losing composure as the second half gets underway. There were moments of unease once again as Derby began to push further forward and their opposition looked to panic.
Just after the hour mark, the away side had the lead. A Cyrus Christie free kick was deflected into the path of Vydra. His instinctive flick directed the ball past Al-Habsi and into the Reading goal to give them the lead.
The Royals then had to push for the equaliser but they were not moving the ball fast enough. Despite being a goal down, the team were playing at a speed as if they were winning the game. The Royals had opportunities to level the score through John Swift and substitute Callum Harriott but both were deflected.
It was a spectacular save down the other end by Al-Habsi that kept Reading in the game. A cross in from the left was met by Vydra but his header was stopped by the Reading keeper at point-blank range.
With ten minutes of the game to go, and still a goal down, Stam changed tactic by bringing on Joseph Mendes in place of Chris Gunter. It was the spark that Reading needed with the striker looking lively. As the game approached full-time, however, a defeat was looking increasingly likely.
It was a corner that would be Derby’s downfall, however, as the Royals converted a late equaliser. Roy Beerens delivered the corner which was glanced on by Kermorgant. After hitting Harriott in front of the goal, Evans pounced to score from close range.
From a Reading perspective the most important thing about the game was that they were able to maintain their unbeaten run at home. It was not pretty, it was not exciting but Reading did what they needed to do in order to take something from the game.
The Royals now find themselves eighth in the Championship table going into the international break. Stam’s side are performing well and are much higher in the table than many will have expected at the beginning of the season.
QPR are up next for the Royals as they look to maintain their position near the top of the league.