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15:06 7th May 2011

Royals take momentum with 2-1 win

Reading 2 (Harte 23 (pen), Robson-Kanu 71)
Derby 1 (Ward 31)

Reading rounded off the regular League campaign with a deserved 2-1 home win over Derby County, and go into our play-off semi-final with Cardiff City in fine spirits.

Brian McDermott made six changes, and one of those brought into the team Simon Church won a penalty midway through the first half, Ian Harte converting with aplomb for his 11th Reading goal of the season.

County's Jamie Ward equalised with a very good strike that swerved viciously away from Adam Federici, and Harte then saw a penalty come back off the post right on half time after Michail Antonio was fouled inside the area.

Chances were at a premium in the second half until brilliant work from sub Brynjar Gunnarsson allowed Hal Robson-Kanu to turn home from eight yards.

Federici then made a magnificent save right on full time to ensure we took all three points, and we go into the play-offs in fine fettle.

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Cummings, Harte, Mills (c), Pearce; Leigertwood (Gunnarsson 70), Tabb, Antonio (Taylor 58), Robson-Kanu; Church, Manset (Hunt 78)
Subs: McCarthy, Morrison, Howard, Long
Booked: Tabb (foul 68)

Derby (4-4-2): Atkins; Bryaford, Leacock, Anderson, Ayala; Bailey (Doyle 81), Savage (C), Bueno (Hendrick 81), Pearson (B Davies 58); Ball, Ward
Subs: Jones, Porter, Addison
Booked: Savage (foul 22), Anderson (foul 60)

Attendance: 21,902 (1,943 away)

Ref: P Miller

Starting XI team news
Reading made six changes to their team; two each in defence, midfield and attack. Alex Pearce & Shaun Cummings were brought in at the back, Jay Tabb & Hal Robson-Kanu came into midfield and Simon Church & Mathieu Manset started up front. Robbie Savage started for Derby and captained the side on his final career appearance.

First half
County had an effort on target within the first 20 seconds as Jamie Ward backheeled towards goal but it was simple for Adam Federici to gather at his feet.

Reading soon had their own sight of goal when home debutant Michail Antonio played a nice ball into the area for Mathieu Manset, and as the Derby keeper came out our striker was unlucky to dink not far off target.

Royal pressure was beginning to build, and both Hal Robson-Kanu & Jay Tabb threw themselves at an inviting low cross but it ended up just wide.

Tabb was close to winning a penalty after a foul by Robbie Savage right on the width of the box, and from the free kick a scramble ensued but County hacked clear.

Reading soon had the lead though, Simon Church doing well to get in front of his man inside the area and then being fouled. Ian Harte stepped up and did the rest for his 11th Reading goal of the season.

The Royals continued to build pressure and looked set fair to increase the advantage with a series of good attacks, but Derby were soon level.

Jamie Ward picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and his excellent strike swerved wildly away from Adam Federici - our keeper was going one way but the bend on the effort took it into the other corner.

Derby then had a bit more play, but right on half time we had a great chance to retake the lead. Antonio worked hard inside the box to win a penalty, but Harte's spot kick came back off the upright and immediately it was half time.

Second half
Reading were enjoying decent possession at the start of the second period but chances were at a premium.

On the hour mark Jake Taylor came on for his Reading League debut, the Wales under 21 international replacing Antonio on the right wing in front of the East Stand.

Derby sub Ben Davies then forced a decent save out of Federici in the home goal after cutting in from the left.

As the game entered the final 20 minutes, Reading took the lead with a goal borne out of sheer work ethic and determination from Brynjar Gunnarsson, who had only just come on. He battled superbly with Taylor to get in a block tackle that ended up as a cross for Church. The ball then fell down to Robson-Kanu, who finished right footed with a slight deflection for 2-1.

Interestingly, the Welshman's effort was the 1500th goal in the npower Championship this season.

It was nearly 3-1 very soon after as Church did well to get to Manset's near post cross but it went just wide of the near post.

The points looked secure, but it still took an absolutely magnificent save from Federici to keep out a Jeff Hendrick volley - it really was some stop.

After full time the players and fans revelled in a superb lap of appreciation - and the mood going into the play-offs is superb.

    Data provided by Press Association