Match Report: 2011/2012 Season

18 October 2011: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Le Fondre (65 mins, 77 mins).
Derby: Robinson (59 mins), Cywka (75 mins).
Half Time: 0-0.

Attendance: 15,704

Pos Team P Pts GD
13 Leicester 11 16 +2
14 READING 12 16 +1
15 Barnsley 12 15 0
Reading: A Federici, K Gorkss, A Pearce, J Mills, S Cummings, M Leigertwood, J Kebe (M Manset, 72), J Karacan, H Robson-Kanu, A Le Fondre, S Church (N Hunt, 79).
Subs not used: I Harte, A McCarthy, B Gunnarsson.
Derby: F Fielding, J Shackell, R Anderson, G Roberts, M O'Brien, T Cywka (C Ball, 82), B Davies, C Bryson, J Hendrick, J Ward (C Doyle, 70), T Robinson.
Subs not used: K Kilbane, A Legzdins, C Maguire.
Reading: Mills
Derby: Anderson, Robinson.
Ref: R East.
Reading's season is gradually gaining momentum. If Derby are considered to be contenders for a play-off place which their current league position indicates, then so are the Royals. They dominated the game from start to finish coming from behind twice to extend their unbeaten run to six games. The defensive lapses which allowed Derby to claim an undeserved point will clearly need to be addressed, but the improvement in the overall team performance is cause for optimism. Le Fondre is proving he is more than able to compete at Championship level. He is clearly a natural goalscorer but his ability to find space and hold the ball made him a key factor in Reading's dominance. With Liegertwood looking like he wants to play again and Karacan eager to win his place back, Reading swarmed all over Derby in midfield who were consequently unable to establish a foothold on the game at any stage. There was a confidence about Reading in this game which has not been evident for a while and although it is too early to talk about promotion, relegation is certainly off the agenda.

In the opening minutes Derby knocked the ball about crisply, as you would expect from a team in the top five of the league, but it did not last. Leigertwood stamped his authority on the game winning the ball in his own half and racing through the centre of Derby's midfield. As he approached the penalty area the Derby defence melted away. He appeared to be surprised to be simultaneously presented with a clear sight of goal and the option of laying the ball off to unmarked players and made a hash of his strike on goal. Kebe, back from a long absence due to injury, looked rusty. Presented with a half chance completely missed the ball. He was keen to take players on, but is still allowing defenders to send him inside into crowded midfield areas where it is harder for him to use his pace. Le Fondre and Church were linking up well together and troubling the Derby back four which looked far from comfortable, and were, more often than not, content to hoof the ball out of play. Derby had to defend desperately as Church flicked a ball over Fielding with Le Fondre lurking behind the stranded Derby 'keeper. Le Fondre forced a very good save from Fielding with a typically well placed downward header. Reading continued to penetrate with their passing and Derby were never allowed to settle on the ball. A goalless first half belonged to Reading.

The pattern of play remained unaltered in the second half as Reading continued to dominate. Fielding dealt comfortably with string of crosses and corners as Reading went looking for goals. Derby lacked ambition and were pinned back. Completely against the run of play Derby scored from a set piece in the fifty-ninth minute. Two Derby players were allowed to drop off their respective markers and were waiting at the far post when the cross arrived. Robinson scored from close range past an exposed Federici who, up to that point, had had nothing to do. Unlike the home crowd the players were not were stunned but simply went about their task and were soon rewarded with an equaliser when Le Fondre delicately lifted the ball over Fielding into the bottom corner of the net. A more composed finish you could not wish to see. Almost unbelievably Derby found the net again with fifteen minutes left. Cykwa outmuscled Mills at the far post to slam the ball past Federici. Mills tried to cover his embarrassment with a protest, but I am sure will not want that to happen again. He is still a better option than Harte in that position. Undeterred Reading pressed forward and a sweeping move produced an immediate equaliser. Karacan's long crossfield pass found Robson-Kanu who brought the ball quickly under control and curled a superb cross behind the retreating Derby back four. Le Fondre finished the move with perfectly timed run and a downward header straight out of the coaching manual to leave Fiedling no chance whatsoever.

So Reading saved a point, which was the least they deserved, but more important than that they played really well and produced some entertaining football. On Saturday Southampton will arrive five points clear at the top of the league, but I suspect the Reading players will be looking forward to it. I think we can look forward to a real test, a big crowd and cracking game.
John Wells

Derby were well organised and you can see why they are near the top this season. It was encouraging, therefore, that we totally dominated the game and restricted them to 1 shot on target according to the stats (which is confusing as I thought they scored twice). It was nearly a perfect away performance by them.
I thought all our players did ok. Church had a good night and is forming a good partnership with the excellent ALF. ALF has really surprised me. I was expecting a lazy goal hanger and he is far from that and is now beginning to look more PL than League 2 which is fantastic. A lot of teams will be kicking themselves for not taking the 350K risk with him. Well done to Brian and Nicky for doing so.
Legs looks so much better now and Karacan always gives 100% as far as I am concerned and should always be one of the first names on the team sheet. HRK had a quiet game but a fantastic cross for the second. Cannot make my mind up about Kebe. He looked interested at times and less so at others. If he won't sign a contract we should try to get something for him in January IMO. The defence did ok generally and were very unlucky to concede two from one (or maybe two) shots on target. All in all a bit frustrating as we deserved a win, but once again the team spirit really shone through as we came back well twice from behind.

We should have won that really despite the fact that no one other than Le Fondre looked like scoring. Players in general looking much more confident now. Alf really has made the step up to the Championship much better than I feared he might and Church seems to have gained some self belief and is looking much better this season than last. Thought Kebe looked fit, which surprised me and on the other wing HRK got better as the game wore on after I thought a poor first half. Great cross for the second goal too. Leigertwood seems to have recovered his mojo and is looking more his old self now and although Tabb did a decent job for the team whilst Karacan was out of favour, I thought Jem showed tonight he is the superior player,
I thought Cummings, Gorkss and Pearce were fine tonight but Mills defending is a worry. I think people are over critical of his all round game but he showed a shocking lack of anticipation for the second goal. The concern is that kind of error is exactly the type of error Harte makes when he plays. Feds had little to do tonight.
All in all we should be able to cobble together enough points to keep us away from the bottom three but despite the unbeaten run it's hard to see us seriously threatening the top six.
Elmer Park

Got an opinion? E-Mail us at
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages

Adam Le Fondre's brace helped Reading twice battle back from behind to claim a point against a below-par Derby side. The Rams struggled to create chances until Theo Robinson met Ben Davies' free-kick with a back-post tap-in. Le Fondre levelled for the first time with a superb volley but Tomasz Cywka restored Derby's lead when he slid in to meet another Davies cross. The Royals were behind for only two minutes, with Le Fondre heading home a Hal Robson-Kanu cross to earn the draw. That extends Reading's unbeaten streak to six matches and it was the least they deserved after controlling possession and territory for much of the match. Despite scoring twice, Derby failed to find any sort of rhythm for the majority of the evening and have now gone four league games without a win. Reading, in contrast, started brightly and wasted a glorious opportunity after just five minutes when Mikele Leigertwood charged forward but could only shoot weakly wide with Jimmy Kebe better placed. Joseph Mills, Kebe and Le Fondre also had tame efforts easily saved by Derby keeper Frank Fielding, who then did brilliantly to keep out a Le Fondre header. Derby only managed one shot of note before the break, a Jamie Ward back-heel that Adam Federici kept out, but they did improve after the interval. Robinson was in the right place to turn in their opener before Le Fondre's spectacular reply, but Cywka held off Mills at the back post to put the visitors back in front. Again, the Royals responded well and Le Fondre got on the end of a delightful cross by Robson-Kanu to power home his second of the night.
BBC Sport