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Match Reports

📝 Match report | Fabulous Royals get off to winning start at Pride Park

Goals from Lucas Joao and Ovie Ejaria capped a fantastic opening day performance that earned Veljko Paunovic victory in his first game as manager

12 September 2020

The Royals made a winning start to the Championship season with a very impressive performance against Derby County this afternoon - starting life under new manager Veljko Paunovic in real style.

Two quickfire goals just before half-time here cost the Royals at the end of last season, but this time Lucas Joao and Ovie Ejaria found the net within the space of five minutes before the interval to deservedly take all three points against their Derby hosts.

Reading began the game on the front foot and pressed their opponents from the off. And the first half chance fell for the visitors when John Swift laid the ball off for Michael Olise to run onto and his driving run took him to the edge of the area. Opting not to shoot, the midfielder looked to slide the ball into Lucas Joao inside the box but Derby had recovered in numbers and cleared the ball before the striker could collect the pass.

Appeals for a penalty were waved away as Joao looked like he was pushed in trying to attack a lovely Swift free kick. Then at the other end a half-cleared cross dropped to Jack Marriott whose hooked effort deflected up off a Reading body and over the crossbar.

Reading has a golden opportunity to open the scoring after 18 minutes. Ejaria won the ball back in midfield and Olise played an early ball into the path of Joao. The striker turned away from the two backtracking defenders and only had David Marshall to beat - but his strike was parried by the Rams stopper and Swift's follow-up effort spooned over the bar.


Bird fired a 25-yard effort high over the target at the other end after he ran onto a good headed clearance from Michael Morrison. Morgan Whittaker arrowed over moments later as Derby threatened.

But Reading were looking the more impressive, keeping possession well and pressing Derby at every opportunity. With six minutes of the half remaining, Richards swept in a fine cross from the left that just evaded Swift.

The resultant corner led to the opening goal. Olise delivered an inswinging ball to the near post which was met on the volley by Joao - and he steered the ball past Marshall and into the bottom right corner for 1-0.

And before half-time, the Royals had a second! The move started with long ball from Rafael that picked out an onside Joao. He scuttled into the box and spotted the run of Ejaria, backheeling it into the midfielder's run and Ovie finished with aplomb, passing the ball past Marshall from a narrow angle. 

Half-time: Derby County 0-2 Reading


The second half began in bizarre circumstances. The fourth official brought the game to a pause after about a minute because he hadn't been informed or announced a Derby substitute at the start of the half. Nathan Byrne was booked and eventually the game resumed.

The Rams carved out the first chance of the half when Whittaker's low drive had to be saved by Rafael, low to his left. Marriott looked like he might be able to recycle the loose ball, but he missed his kick to allow the Royals stopper to scoop the ball into his chest.

The offside flag brough a counter attack to an early end as Joao darted onto an Ejaria flick on. And Ejaria himself had a shot charged down minutes later as he scuttled across the edge of the Derby box.

Swift sprung the offside trap and got in behind a high Derby line next, but he tried to round the goalkeepr and Marshall clawed the ball off the midfielder's toes to keep it at 2-0.

And the Royals came even closer to a third just before the hour mark. Yiadom burst into space down the right and delivered a low cross into the middle where Joao connected and drilled it against the crossbar.

Marriott ame inside from the left and tried his luck from distance - his shot flew high off the head of Moore and behind for a corner.


A driving run from Joao almost gave Olise a sight of goal, but he was crowded out and Yiadom's deflected shot flew harmlessly wide. Ejaria then made way for Sone Aluko in Pauno's first change of the game.

The Rams continued to press for a route back into the game but Reading were looking organised across the pitch. And Olise's blocked shot with a quarter of an hour remaining almost fell kindly for Joao lurking in the box.

Morrison cleared the Royals' lines as Marriott looked to latch onto a loose ball inside the visitors' box, then Forsyth connected sweetly with a low drive from range that was charged down.

With four minutes left on the clock, Rafael came to collect a Rooney free kick and Tom Holmes came off the bench to add some fresh legs to the defence for the final throes.

Full-time: Derby County 0-2 Reading

Derby County: Marshall, Wisdom (Byrne HT), Forsyth, Shinnie (Rooney 63), Wierik, Bird (c), Marriott, Clarke, Sibley, Whittaker, Knight.
Unused subs: Roos, Davies, Evans, Buchanan, Brown.
Yellow: Shinnie, Sibley, Byrne

: Rafael, Yiadom, Richards, Moore, Morrison, Rinomhota, Laurent, Swift (Baldock 78), Olise (Holmes 88), Ejaria (Aluko 68), Joao.
Unused subs: Southwood, Bristow, Araruna, Puscas.
Yellow: Olise
Goals: Joao (40), Ejaria (45)

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