Derby 1 (Commons 62)
Reading 2 (Long pen 43, 87)
Two goals from Shane Long gave Reading all three points against Derby County this Saturday afternoon in a pulsating game at Pride Park.
Long won and converted a first half penalty, hit the bar in the second half and then headed home very late on from Jobi McAnuff's brilliant crossfield ball.
It was a fantastic afternoon's entertainment, and those Reading fans who bravely made the trip north saw our goalkeeper Adam Federici
make a succession of world class stops to help earn us all three points.
Federici denied efforts from Alberto Bueno, Stephen Pearson and two from Luke Moore, and every one of the saves was of the very highest order.
Down the other end Stephen Bywater made crucial saves from Noel Hunt and Simon Church, while Bueno and goalscorer Kris Commons also hit the woodwork in a game that included an incredible 34 shots.
It was a game of close margins, and after five straight draws Reading got back to winning ways in fine style.
Long proved to be the difference between the sides, and he fully repaid Brian McDermott's continued faith in his ability with two matchwinning goals. The 23-year-old has a magnificent record against Derby, with seven goals in 3(+4) appearances against the Rams.
The victory moved Reading up to seventh in the table with a game in hand, and we look ahead to the festive period with great confidence.
Our players rightly paid thanks to our supporters at full time, with a number of boots and match shirts going into the crowd as gestures of thanks.
Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Griffin, Harte, Mills (c), Pearce; Karacan (Howard 82), Leigertwood, Kebe (Robson-Kanu 76), McAnuff; Hunt (Church 65), Long
Subs: McCarthy; Khizanishvili, Tabb, Antonio
Booked: Kebe (foul 38), Hunt (foul 44), Federici (timewasting 90)
Derby (4-4-2): Bywater; Brayford, Moxey, Leacock (Bailey HT), Barker; Green, Cywka, Pearson (Savage HT), Commons; Bueno (Porter 86), Moore
Subs: Deeney, O'Brien, Hendrick, Pringle
Booked: Barker (foul 40), Savage (foul 50)
Referee: D DeadmanStarting XI team news
Reading were unchanged from the previous game against Coventry, while Michail Antonio was back on the bench in place of Shaun Cummings.First half
The game started at a very high tempo, and Shane Long dangerously got into the County box in the third minute down the left hand side. Shaun Barker went to ground and won the ball well - although he did take a bit of man in the process. From the resulting corner, Long did well to get a header in but Stephen Bywater was on hand to save.
Just two minutes later Derby's Spanish forward Alberto Bueno showed excellent feet in the area and worked space for a shot but saw his effort come back out off the post.
It was a cracking game, and Reading were enjoying plenty of possession. Jobi McAnuff had a shot deflected narrowly wide, while Mikele Leigertwood was not too far away with a left footed effort from the corner of the box.
Noel Hunt then had a decent sight of goal following good play from McAnuff, but the striker couldn't quite keep it down and side footed a tough opportunity over.
To their credit, Derby were also playing a full part in an exciting match and it was a game between two attack-minded sides.
Just before the half hour Adam Federici
made the first of a number of magnificent saves, denying Stephen Pearson with a brilliant stop after a free kick was deflected into the midfielder's path. The Scot had a cracking sight of goal but our 'keeper did superbly to keep it out.
It was end-to-end stuff and a wide free kick from Ian Harte created all kinds of panic in the Derby box and they somehow hacked clear off the line.
Federici then made another magnificent save, this time denying Luke Moore after the on-loan West Brom man hit an excellent left footed strike at goal.
Down the other end, Long brilliantly danced into the box and Leigertwood hit another effort not too far over.
Just before half time Reading broke the deadlock with a goal created and converted by that man Long
. He got in on McAnuff's through ball and was clearly pulled back inside the box by Shaun Barker, who was only booked. Our young striker dusted himself down and put home a great spot kick, giving Stephen Bywater no chance.Second half
Early in the second half Federici made yet another fantastic stop, keeping out Bueno's excellent free kick with a diving stop right under the crossbar.
Reading were then inches away from a second goal, Bywater getting the faintest of touches on Hunt's effort and seeing it go agonisingly wide of the upright.
Barker then clearly fouled Long and was lucky not to pick up a second yellow. Harte's set piece delivery was again excellent, and Long's header hit the crossbar on its way over.
It continued to be end-to-end, and Derby got back on level terms with a header from Kris Commons
, giving Federici no chance as he angled a good finish in the corner.
We had a brilliant chance to go back in front, and a wonderful opportunity fell to Simon Church, but he didn't get enough purchase on it with his very first touch and allowed Bywater to save; a great opportunity slipping away from us.
The action continued unabated, and once again Federici made a superb save, keeping out Moore's low effort from close range in stunning fashion.
County were trying to build pressure, and Tomas Cywka then Bueno both put efforts not too far wide, while they also wanted a penalty for a handball but nothing was given.
Then with just three minutes left, McAnuff put a superb ball into the area and Long
was there to plant home a match-winning header, sending our fans into raptures.
Into injury time Commons clipped the bar with a free kick from outside the box, and with that we took all three points.
It was a classic away performance, and those Reading fans who made the trip to Pride Park were rewarded with all three points. Our players rightly gave thanks to the supporters who had braved the conditions at full time, with Ian Harte and Noel Hunt among those who gave boots and shirts into the crowd.