Derby 2 (Green 60, Hulse 73)
Reading 1 (Sigurdsson 56)
Reading slipped to defeat at Pride Park this Saturday afternoon - and the result could have been much different.
The Royals fully deserved to take the lead when Gylfi Sigurdsson slotted home on 56 minutes, and it was just reward for our performance up to that point.
But for 13 minutes we took our foot off the pedal and two quick goals from Paul Green then Rob Hulse turned the game on its head.
Sub Shane Long was sent off with ten minutes to go, and it was a debatable decision because he was clearly fouled in the build-up and therefore frustrated when he caught Fredrik Stoor very late. In addition, Hulse had committed an almost identical offence in the first half but was only shown a yellow in front of his home supporters.
Despite the dismissal we still continued to press and Jobi McAnuff & Alex Pearce both came close to equalising as Derby had to defend frantically.
It was somewhat harsh on the Royals, and it was so disappointing to see an excellent opportunity wasted.
Derby (4-4-2): Bywater; Stoor (Livermore 82), McEveley, Barker, Leacock; Pearson, Savage (c), Green (Moxey 87), Teale; Dickov (Addison 77), Hulse
Subs: Atkins, Hendrie, Croft, Campbell
Booked: Hulse (foul 43), Teale (foul 44)
Reading (4-3-3): Federici; Tabb, Bertrand, Ingimarsson (c), Pearce; Howard (Karacan 20), Matejovsky, Sigurdsson (Rasiak 65); Kebe, McAnuff, Church (Long HT)
Subs: Hamer, O'Dea, Cisse, Robson-Kanu
Booked: Kebe (foul 37). Matejovsky (foul 50), Pearce (foul 58)
Sent off: Long (foul 80)
Ref: A HainesFirst half
Brendan Rodgers named the same starting XI from last week's 2-1 win over Blackpool, while Nigel Clough made a number of changes from his team's last outing, bringing in Paul Dickov among others.
The first quarter of the game was even, and Jobi McAnuff's 20-yard effort scuttled wide of Stephen Bywater's upright.
With 20 minutes on the clock Reading lost Brian Howard to a jaw injury, and he required a good few minutes' treatment before being replaced by Jem Karacan.
Soon after the game restarted Gary Teale unleashed a stinging drive, but Adam Federici
palmed over with ease.
Jimmy Kebe had a very sight of goal on 28 minutes after Simon Church played him in down the right. It was a little under his feet on the edge of the box, but he still should have done better than to smash wildly off target.
Reading created some nice passing moves, the best of them in 31 when Kebe did well to find Gylfi Sigurdsson down the right. He quickly cut it back for Simon Church, but 'keeper Stephen Bywater was out sharply at his feet.
Down the other end Dickov was a lively influence on the game, and his 25-yarder was deflected wide on 35 minutes.
Just before half time Rob Hulse was perhaps more than a little fortunate to stay on the pitch, catching Ivar Ingimarsson very, very late and only shown a yellow by referee Mr Haines.
Reading had created the better chances during the half, and another one almost came to Church in injury time but he was just outmuscled by Fredrik Stoor at the last.Second half
Church was withdrawn at half time, Shane Long on his place and the Irishman looked spritely and determined.
We had a spring in our step at the start of the half, and got our reward eleven minutes in.
Jay Tabb did really well to win possession 20 yards into Derby territory, and glided past three challenges to get inside the area. Sigurdsson
was on hand to take over, and guided home a cracking side footed finish in off the post.
We had deserved the lead, but Derby regrouped quickly and we were not able to press home our undoubted advantage any further.
Paul Green soon got a decent sight of goal, but Ryan Bertrand did very well to block his effort.
Within a minute though the Derby midfielder did find the back of the net. A nice Dickov backheel put Gary Teale in space down the left, and Green
timed his run to stab home.
Everything seemed to be falling to Green, and he should have scored again on 66 but shot wide from Dickov's pass.
Derby were on top, and another Rams goal seemed all too likely. It came on 73, the key moment when Teale's neat backheel found Jay McEveley in a crossing position. The left back whipped it in low and Hulse
was on hand from six yards to prod it into the back of the net.
We tried to lift ourselves, and Kebe got in a great position down the right. Sub Gregorz Rasiak was in a perfect position in the middle, but Kebe chose not to pass and got crowded out, the chance gone begging.
The Royals were working hard, but the task was made much harder when Shane Long was shown a straight red card. The striker battled for possession wide on the left, and was clearly fouled by defender Stoor and sent to the ground. Incredibly, nothing was given and this frustrated Long. He got to his feet and was very late on Stoor as the defender cleared his lines. It was right in front of the Derby fans, and it always looked inevitable he would be sent off. Arguably Hulse's first half challenge on Ingimarsson was equally as late, but on both occasions the home side were favoured.
Going down to ten men did not affect our presence in the game, and on 84 we were left cursing our luck when a corner seemed destined to go in but luckily for the home side our scrambled effort hit Bywater right on the chest.
We were pressing, pressing, pressing, and McAnuff had a great chance in the first of six minutes of injury time, but it was too close to Bywater.
Injury time was a complete scramble and time after time we got the ball into the County box as they defended for their lives and tried to fight off the cavalry from all angles.
In the 94th minute makeshift striker Alex Pearce almost salvaged a point with a side-footer from 18 yards, but Bywater got lucky as it bounced off his forearm and away from goal - agonisingly unlucky for our vice captain.
Defeat was harsh on our boys, who had given everything, but two quick goals for the home side turned the game in their favour. We could also debate the red card incident, but it would be to no avail and we must regroup for the trip to Sheffield Wednesday next week.