Reading prove too strong for Rams despite Lawrence's cracker
READING 3-1 DERBY COUNTY
Derby County were unable to build on their win over Luton Town as hosts Reading boosted their play-off hopes with a win on Easter Monday.
The result was a fair one in a game that only really came to life in the second-half, the hosts' opener right at the end of the first period a big blow to the Rams who at that point had been giving as good as they got.
After a very quiet first opening 20 minutes where neither side was able to threaten the goal, it was Derby was who came closest with three chances in a matter of seconds.
Craig Forsyth’s cross was met by Colin Kazim-Richards who looped a header against the post, Tom Lawrence followed up but saw his shot blocked by keeper Cabral Barbosa, then Kazim-Richards fired over the top with the rebound.
Both were defences holding firm, Derby showing some bright touches in spells but struggling to penetrate the hosts’ defence – Nathan Byrne also leaving the game early following a knock on the half-hour mark with Kornell McDonald.
But it would be the hosts who would get the opening goal with the final kick of the half, as Reading worked the ball in well from the left and it fell to Michael Olise who arrowed a superb left-footed strike from the edge of the penalty area and into the top corner of the net, the Rams perhaps affording the Frenchman too much space.
Reading then began the second-half stronger and got their second goal on 57 minutes, as Josh Laurent cut in from the right and saw his shot parried away by David Marshall, but George Puscas was on hand to turn in the rebound from close range.
A good counter saw Max Bird’s through ball nearly get to Tom Lawrence but Barbosa was out quickly to just get there ahead of the Derby man, then Kazim-Richards’ cross-shot was inches away from sub Jack Stretton in the six-yard box but the ball went wide.
The Reading keeper then had to be alert to tip a fine Bird 25-yarder just over the top on 70 minutes.
Marshall got down well to deny Yakou Meite on 77 as the hosts looked for a third to kill the game off, but it would be the visitors to get one back in style moments later.
The ball came to Lawrence in the inside left channel some 30 yards out and the Welshman got the ball onto his right foot and blasted a stunning strike into the top corner of the net.
But within five minutes, Reading had sealed the win. A ball into the box wasn’t dealt with by the Rams and sub Lucas Joao, on the pitch for just two minutes, was on hand to hook the ball home although the final touch could well have come from Bird.
That would be that, the hosts holding out for a deserved three points despite Derby’s few moments of promise threatening to change the game at key stages of the encounter.
Reading: Barbosa, Richards (Gibson 67), Moore, Olise (Lucas Joao 81), Rinomhota, Meite (Aluko 89), Ejaria (Pontes Esteves 89), Yiadom, Laurent, Holmes, Puscas (Semedo 81)
Subs not used: Southwood (GK), Baldock, Tetek, Dorsett.
Derby: Marshall, Wisdom, Forsyth, Shinnie, Bird, Lawrence, Byrne (McDonald 35), Kazim-Richards, Mengi, Sibley (Jozwiak 62), Knight (Stretton 62, Roberts 81)
Subs not used: Roos (GK), Buchanan, Bateman, Baningime, Watson