Match Report: 2010/2011 Season

Reading: Harte (24 mins, pen), Robson-Kanu (72 mins).
Derby: Ward (32 mins).
Half Time: 1-1.

Attendance: 21,902

Pos Team P Pts GD
4 Cardiff 46 80 +22
5 READING 46 77 +26
6 Nottm F 46 75 +19
Reading: A. Federici, M. Mills, I. Harte, A. Pearce, S. Cummings, M. Leigertwood (B. Gunnarsson, 71), J. Tabb, H. Robson-Kanu, M. Antonio (J. Taylor, 58), S. Church, M. Manset (N. Hunt, 78) . Subs not used: A. McCarthy, S. Morrison, B. Howard, S. Long.
Derby County: R. Atkins, D. Leacock, R. Anderson, J. Brayford, D. Ayala, R. Savage, J. Bailey (C. Doyle, 81), A. Bueno (J. Hendrick, 81), S. Pearson (B. Davies, 58), J. Ward, C. Ball. Subs not used: C. Porter, S. Davies, B. Jones, M. Addison.
Reading: Tabb.
Derby Country: Savage, Anderson.
Ref: P Miller.
Everything went to plan. Brian McDermott sensibly fielded a weakened team and got away with a win which made little difference to anyone, although a defeat would have been damaging to morale. Shane Long deservedly received the fans player of the year award before the kick-off and then was parked on the bench for the rest of the afternoon. His daughter actually had more of a run out than he did when she came onto the pitch after the end of season players lap of the pitch. With Tabb and Leigertwood anchoring midfield it was left to a very inexperienced quartet of Antonio. Robson-Kanu, Manset and Church to open up the Derby defence.

The first strike on goal came from Derby in the first minute when a clever flick was well saved by Federici at the near post. Reading were lively in attack and the County defence looked far from comfortable. Robbie Savage playing his last league game looked ready to retire as his passes went astray, got caught in possession and ended up with a yellow card for a cynical foul when outpaced by Tabb. Church had a good first half. He demonstrated good awareness when he held the ball up as Manset ran into an offside position. He rattled the bar with a good strike from outside the box and won a penalty which Harte converted calmly after twenty-three minutes to give Reading the lead. Derby equalised out of the blue eight minutes later when Ward beat Federici from some distance with a shot that swerved viciously sending the 'keeper the wrong way. Robson-Kanu revelled in being given more responsibility and time on the ball due to the absence of other more senior players. He looked strong on the ball and had a good game too although his defensive work leaves a lot to be desired. He began to look like a first team player today which is more than can be said for Antonio who lacked composure. It was however Antonio's persistence which provided the Royals with the opportunity to restore their lead on the stroke of half time winning a second penalty following a clumsy attempt to halt his run into the box. Harte's kick struck the base of the post and the scores remained level at the interval.

Reading had the better of the second half and deserved their winner which came following good work by Taylor and Gunnarsson in closing down defenders. Gunarsson's block flew across goal and Derby 'keeper Atkins flapped at the ball for the third time in the match and on this occasion was punished as the ball fell to Robson-Kanu who took great delight in steering the ball low into the corner of the net before leaping away in celebration. Fderici denied Derby a second equaliser with a quite brilliant save from a thunderous volley from Hendrick.

The post match entertainment was even better. County fans tried to invade the pitch and we were treated a some outstanding rugby tackles by the stewards, a lap of honour from the Reading players, and a final flourish from Robbie Savage who donated his shorts and shirt to the crowd and strutted off in his underwear to applauses from both sets of fans. It is remarkable how fame and popularity can be achieved essentially through petulance. The real business continues next Friday when Cardiff come to town. Not that this encounter needs spicing up but there are one or scores to be settled from the league matches this season. Reading are certainly capable of going up, but so are the other three teams involved.
John Wells

Not really a "proper" game for me. Too many changes, not our first team - but worth getting a few up to speed "just in case" for playoffs. Impressed by Taylor. Feds made some good saves yet again. Cummings seemed solid enough. Pearce did well considering not played regularly for first team in a long while. Antonio didn't seem to up his game today. Manset - I'm a bit "meh" about his performance but he is able to hold the ball up/bully opponents off the ball on good days. Got excited seeing Kebe in his shorts - thought he would at least be on bench - but hearing McD's interview doesn't sound like he's a certainty for play offs - which is a great shame. All in all, we did a job - but I'd have liked us to have created more and finished Derby off really. But it's a win, onwards and upwards - we'll have a lot more motivation and no expectation on our heads than Cardiff will. So, that could be the difference between winning and losing this semi. I think everyone else is out celebrating. I know my mind has been elsewhere really since seeing Savage in his underpants and old man vest.
Royal Lady

The result wasn't important today but a few players individual performances were. Hard to pick a MOM between HRK and Cummings, both with very strong shows. Good to go into the playoffs with a win under our belts. Great to see Brynar on the pitch. Very fitting send off for Savage, 90 minutes of abuse and then a standing ovation all around the ground. Derby fans in good voice, spoilt somewhat by the silly antics at the end. Looked like the stewards enjoyed it more than they did! :lol: All in all a pretty comfortable win in a pretty meaningless match but great to have turned around a couple of dodgy results and rubbished the Manager of the Month curse.

It all had rather an end of term feel about it today. Both sides seemed to struggle to really believe that it was important. Reading defended well apart from the goral and Fed looked safe enough. Not sure if he was at fault for the goal or not - could not tell from where I was. Cummings very good again - I really respect the way he has come back from not even making the pre season tour last summer. Pearce also looked very good and is unlucky not to be playing regularly. I had high hopes for both Antonio and Church this season but both disappointed again - especially Antonio. Manset looked ok but not outstanding. Thought Tabb was very good today and Robson-Kanu was MOTM to me. Derby fans made a lot of noise to be fair and Robbie Savage is a legend - although I am not sure he looked great in his underclothes. Well done to the RFC fans for giving him a deservedly good send off. At the end of the day a win is a win and I am really looking forward to Friday night now.

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Reading finished fifth in the Championship after inflicting a fourth successive defeat upon Derby. In his final appearance Robbie Savage lost possession which led to Simon Church being fouled and Ian Harte put the Royals ahead from the penalty spot. Jamie Ward levelled with a 25-yard effort off the inside of a post. A second Harte penalty came back off an upright in first-half stoppage time but Hal Robson-Kanu won it after the break with a close range finish.

There was a chance Reading could have claimed fourth spot had Swansea been beaten at home by relegated Sheffield United but the Welsh club's emphatic win means Brian McDermott's side will face Cardiff in the play-offs. Savage had already been booked for pulling back Jay Tabb when he was dispossessed by Church, who was brought down by Michail Antonio in the area. Harte converted for his 13th goal of the season, but though Derby offered little they were level after Ward collected the ball 25 yards out and sent a stunning swerving effort past Adam Federici into the bottom corner. The Rams had the ball in the net again, only for Stephen Pearson to be flagged offside, while Reading spurned the chance to go into the interval in front as Harte thumped the base of the post with his second spot-kick after Michail Antonio had brought another foul from Ayala in the area.

However the home side warmed up for the play-offs by sealing a morale-boosting victory as Brynjar Gunnarsson won the ball which looped up for Church, and his header found its way to Robson-Kanu who squeezed the ball in via a deflection.

BBC Sport