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Rollercoaster encounter ends level

Six-goal thriller at Madejski Stadium earns a point for the Royals

24 February 2018

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A frantic afternoon at Madejski Stadium saw the Royals draw 3-3 with promotion chasers Derby County on Saturday afternoon.

  • Kasey Palmer opens the scoring after five minutes for the visitors
  • Liam Kelly levels for the Royals with a stunning 25-yard strike
  • Mo Barrow puts the Royals ahead before Richard Keogh levels moments later
  • Tom Lawrence scores after 34 seconds of the second half to give Rams 3-2 lead, before Jon Dadi Bodvarsson equalises with 10 minutes remaining
  • Chris Baird sent off for the visitors five minutes from time

The Royals were attacking from the off in RG2, a Sone Aluko corner deflected towards the back post for the waiting Liam Moore. His initial effort was blocked before the volleyed rebound from Moore forced Scott Carson into action.

However, in the visitors' first foray forward, they had the lead. Tom Lawrence broke on the left, Mannone saved his effort in the box but was left stranded as Kasey Palmer slotted in the follow-up to put the Rams ahead.

The Royals didn't allow themselves to be downheartened by the setback, though, with Liam Kelly in space on the right beating two Rams in attack, laying off for Chris Gunter to cross, but his ball was cut out by the Rams' defence.

Before they knew it, the Royals were level. A quick throw from Leandro Bacuna was laid off by Mo Barrow, before Kelly struck a contender for goal of the season from 25 yards into the top corner, beating a flailing Carson.

It was an open and frantic first 20 minutes or so at Madejski Stadium, both teams going toe-to-toe in a fascinating contest for the neutral.

The Royals completed the turnaround on the half-hour mark, with Pelle Clement winning the ball on the left wing, driving on and playing through for Barrow, who comfortably out-paced his man and stayed calm to slot past Carson and celebrate his eighth goal of the season.

However, that lead was to be short-lived. Just four minutes later, Richard Keogh popped up at the back post unmarked from a Derby set-piece and poked past Mannone to square proceedings once more.

Reading were soon appealing for a penalty up the other end, with Barrow being brought down by Tom Huddlestone, but the referee waved away the appeals from the hooped shirts.

In the final moments of the first 45 minutes, Tom Lawrence lined up a free-kick for the visitors just outside the Royals' area. He struck with power and Mannone was able to palm away, albeit in an unorthodox manner in an upright position.

Half time | Reading 2-2 Derby County

Just 34 seconds into the second half, the visitors retook the lead. Lawrence got the ball from a Rams throw-in before dancing past the Royals' defence and slotting into the far corner to turn the game on its head once more.

Not satisfied with one 25-yarder in the game, Kelly tried his luck once more from range. This effort was also bound for the top corner, but for a smart save from Carson to tip it over the bar at full stretch.

With the game getting more physical, Clement was brought down on the edge of the Royals' area but the referee played on, with Joe Ledley lining up an effort and forcing Mannone down to his left to save.

The Royals kept up the pressure as they looked for the equaliser, a Kelly free-kick swung in towards the head of Tiago Ilori, his glanced effort edging half-a-yard wide of the upright.

Mannone had to be on guard to stop a fourth for the visitors, a loose Bacuna pass picked up and lashed at goal by Cameron Jerome, with the Royals' stopper springing to his right to push around the post. The resulting corner also flew into the path of Jerome, whose header rattled the crossbar.

A golden chance to equalise for the Royals went begging after 65 minutes, after playing across the line to find Gunter on the right, he drilled low across goal with Böðvarsson stretching to make contact, with his left-footed effort clearing the bar.

Omar Richards, goalscorer in midweek, was the recipient of a half-clearance from a Reading corner, but he couldn't keep his long-range effort down as it swirled clear of the woodwork.

The Reading pressure paid off 10 minutes from time, as Barrow did superbly to win the ball on the left of the Derby box. He played across goal for Böðvarsson to attack from close range. His first effort was saved point blank by Carson, before he bundled in the rebound to set up a grandstand finish in RG2.

Reading would also finish against 10 men, as Chris Baird scythed down Barrow on the half-way line and received a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on the Royals' winger.

Derby threw men behind the ball in the final action of the match, with the Royals taking another valuable point against tough opposition.

Full time | Reading 3-3 Derby County

Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Ilori, Moore, Richards, Bacuna, Kelly (McCleary 81), Clement (Swift 70), Barrow (Edwards 90+3), Aluko, Böðvarsson.
Subs: Jaakkola, Van den Berg, Blackett, Smith.
Goals: Kelly 16, Barrow 32, Böðvarsson 80
Yellow: Richards, Moore

Derby County: Carson, Keogh, Baird, Olsson, Davies, Palmer (Johnson 77), Lawrence (Wisdom 88), Ledley, Huddlestone, Weimann, Jerome.
Subs: Anya, Pearce, Roos, Nugent, Thorne.
Goals: Palmer 6, Keogh 36, Lawrence 46
Yellow: Olsson, Keogh, Weimann, Carson
Red: Baird

Referee: Mr T Harrington
Attendance: 17,647 (2,855 visiting)

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