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Derby 1-3 Reading

So I took my seats rather late today, the players were already out on the pitch and the team was just being read out, but I couldn't manage to miss the lack of Billy Sharp. Widely reported yesterday to sign for Reading in time for the game today, but instead up front was our Russian striker who, up to this point, had seen red more times than he'd found the back of the net this year. Also notable was a first league start for academy graduate, Jordan Obita.

In a largely dull first period there were glimpses of hope for Reading. McCleary having a few good runs down the right side, reunited on that wing with ex-Nottingham Forest team-mate Chris Gunter. It was also noticeable how Jordan Obita, supposedly playing in the Drenthe free-role, enjoyed sticking to the left-half of the pitch. The new-boy did play well, even if he didn't look anything special he didn't look like a young player coming into a team in transition.

Alex McCarthy pulled off a couple of good saves, generally parrying wide. His distribution from goal kicks still leaves a little to be desired but his throwing is exceptional. Once his arm played a beautiful threw ball to McCleary that was simply world class.

Derby in many ways looked like us. A team with some nice play but with no real killer pass, and nobody able to have a shot. Only Will Hughes, The Rams' eighteen-year-old wonder kid, really looked likely to make anything happen.

Two minutes into the second half it didn't matter though. Obita's freekick found Pearce, who put the ball back across into the six-yard-box where Pavel somehow bundled the ball across the line for his first goal of the season. Royals' fans welcomed the "Big Fucking Russian" back with open arms. He quickly made it two on the 62nd minute, when Bairdhino's Cruyff turn allowed him to slide in McCleary. His poor cross somehow made it to Pavel, via mis-control by Russell, who skillfully stroked it to the goalkeeper's right. I saw people saying Pog can't finish, but that's not his problem. His problem is applying himself to the team, and thinking things through before he actually does them. Now he's found the net, who knows how many he'll be able to notch up in this league.

No doubt down to Baird's fitness the change was made to bring on Akpan in his place. Pearce picked up a yellow card for doing Reading's normal time-wasting routine of running away with the ball, something the afternoon's referee was very quick to clamp down on and something Hal Robson-Kanu was also booked for later.

In the 80th minute Danny Guthrie missed a chance to clear before the wonderkid, Hughes, stroked the ball magnificently into McCarthy's top-right corner. It was harsh on Alex, who played very well and got his hands to anything that was floated into the box and any attempts - which tended to be from long-range - were met with the gloves also. Hughes did, however, get booked less than a minute later after a poor challenge following the restart.

In the 84th minute Blackman came on to replace McCleary, and in the 6 minutes of additional time he found the net for Reading's first goal in open play since Watford. That said, all the Derby players were pushed up, and a long ball to HRK, who held off his man before slipping in Blackman was enough to beat the Derby defence. His celebration, or lack thereof, seemed like a bit of a 'fuck you' to the fans who jeered him off against Leeds. If he's going to show us what he can do every week then I'll be happy. The team celebrated together, the same with Pavel's goals. It seemed like recently it may have been a hard time for the team, but this may be the reward for the hard-work. It's a solid base to build on.

After the final whistle Reading fans stayed to applaud the team. Pavel had a word with Adkins before joining the rest of the players in front of the stand. Pearce, as normal, was his normal animated self. Judging by those celebrations it shows how happy were the fans were with the performance. We still have a problem with scoring from open play, but with a striker actually finding the net - and a win on the board - that can wait until next week against Birmingham.

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