Reading 0 Orlando Sa sent off 45+2
Derby County 1 Tom Ince 69
Games at Reading have proved difficult for Derby County over the years so this hard earned win is particularly pleasing.
An organised and solid Rams team took the points thanks to Tom Ince’s first goal of the season moving up to 10th place in the process.
This was a game of few thrills and spills, Ince’s neatly taken goal being our best chance, the only other incident of note being the dismissal of Reading’s Orlanda Sa just before the break for head butting Jason Shackell.
Paul Clement talked of surprising people in an interview before this game and made three changes to the team to keep both us and the players on their toes.
Lee Grant found himself back on the bench after his good performance at Preston with Scott Carson restored to the starting XI.
The rotating of keepers does bother me, the position more than most others demands stability but at the moment we seem to be recreating the era of England of c.1978 where Peter Shilton & Ray Clemence were selected in turn by Ron Greenwood.
Carson played well when called into action, pulling off one notable save from Oliver Norwood
Two other changes to the team that beat Preston saw the injured Chris Baird missing out and Stephen Warnock move to the bench to be replaced by Jeff Hendrick and Craig Forsyth with Bradley Johnson playing the pivotal defensive midfielder role in a 4-3-3.
Chris Martin took the captain’s armband in the absence of Baird in a move that appropriately reflects his importance to the team.
It was an energetic start to the game with the hosts winning a couple of corners in the first minute, but without causing any problems for the Rams.
Derby responded with a good move inspired by Johnny Russell’s good work, Russell found Chris Martin on the edge of the area but our No.9 wasn’t able to get the ball out of his feet and Jeff Hendrick’s shot, after picking up the ball, was deflected wide, though the referee did not award the corner it warranted.
The Rams were content to hold their shape and the game moved along without much incident. Jacob Butterfield unleashed a couple of powerful shots from distance, both blocked well by the Reading defence and just past the half hour Scott Carson pulled off an excellent save from a Oliver Norwood looper.
An increasingly quiet and uneventful half came to life just before the end of added time when Royals striker Orlanda Sa, fresh from a hat-trick against Ipswich Town last time out, head butted Jason Shackell (surely not a good idea?) following a niggle between the two players and was given a red card for his trouble.
The Rams were well organised in the first half without ever really threatening the home team consistently. Equally the Royals had not dominated though they flickered with more attacking threat and intent.
Derby made a good start to the second half, an early move culminating in Cyrus Christie firing a shot towards goal.
Just past the hour the Rams made a change, showing some aggressive intent, Darren Bent coming on in place of Jeff Hendrick.
In a quiet second half Bradley Johnson again showed well, putting himself about, playing some good passes and adding a physical presence to our midfield.
The Rams took the lead on 69 minutes with a well worked goal.
Jacob Butterfield played the ball to Chris Martin on the edge of the area and Tom Ince, who’d had a quiet game up to that point, popped up in the area to get on the end of a neat pass from Martin and poke in his first goal of the season.
The rest of the game played out without too much anxiety, Reading, despite being a player down, did press as the game came to its end, but without ever really carving out a clear chance.
Both of our full backs had a decent game with Cyrus Christie showing more of the form and confidence of early last season and Craig Forsyth galloping forward regularly; Fozzie also came close with a late chance blazing a first time volley just over.
Richard Keogh continued his impressive start to the season, composed and organised, his partnership with Jason Shackell increasingly the bedrock of our team.
Reading are a useful team with a habit of turning us over so this is an excellent three points won in a professional and workmanlike way.
Two away wins sets us up nicely for the visit of Burnley next Monday – what price a nice 1-0 win courtesy of a goal from one J.Shackell ?