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Reading 1-2 Derby

All day I was dreaming of stopping Frank Lampard's Derby from getting off to a winning start, but alas it wasn't to be.

We started off surprisingly well - pressing Derby high and winning the ball back from their defence multiple times before racing through on goal. Had Bodvarsson managed to find Swift when he was through it would have been harder to miss; or when Barrow put in the best ball I've seen him produce Swift was, again, within a whisker of getting on the end of it.

Even Aluko had his moments; seemingly given a little bit more freedom to cut inside. With the impressive Andy Yiadom overlapping we still had the width on that side that potentially would have been lost had Gunter been in the side.

The other new addition to start, David Meyler, really showed what we'd been missing last season. Someone who, calmly, breaks play up and lays it off. As much as I loved JVDB his persistent fouling always put us on the back foot. I saw someone from Hull saying he had a knack of always being in the right place to break up an attack, and I think we saw that last night.

The only thing that there really was to worry about in the first half was that, in true Reading style, we almost let them back into the game in stoppage time. Meyler, potentially trying to be too clever and play the ball off the Derby player for a corner, ended up cutting it back to the edge of the box. Then we gave away a free kick that thankfully sailed over the bar.

I also had some slight concerns that Ilori and McShane seemed to always be attracted to the high ball, meaning that if Nugent had ever actually managed to win a flick on we would have been in more trouble. Or if Derby had managed to actually play around McShane's occasional rush, but to be fair they were imperious in the first half.

Derby changed in the second period, and came out with a much higher tempo which caused us problems. Bodvarsson's goal, in the end, was against the run of play. Again, an absolutely beautiful ball from Barrow - which, lest we forget, was a problem last year - right onto the head of Bodvarsson. A beautiful goal.

Then everything starts going wrong. Mannone was not good enough for the first goal. A simple shot from outside the box spurned into the corner. Their first shot on target completely deflated Reading. The poor shot stopping must be the reason that Walker's been brought in, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him get an opportunity soon. It was a problem last year, and one game in it's cost us points this year.

The final goal wasn't his fault, mind you. An absolutely beautiful ball from Mason Bennett found the head of Tom Lawrence, who managed to flick it into the far corner. If the Bodvarsson's header was good, this was unreal. A goal worthy of winning the game. Omar Richards, while promising, was muscled off the ball too much, and if anyone was at fault for the goal then you have to highlight him.

We were pinned back in the second half, and it seems to be where Paul Clement's system or style struggles. Every single time we laid foot on the ball it was to clear it up the pitch to absolutely no-one. I was particularly disappointed by Liam Kelly who had a few opportunities to quell pressure by playing out but instead decided to absolutely lump it forward.

Though when Yak came on, and we started to win some headers, it did seem to relieve some pressure. I did think it was a little weird that he was flicking onto Baldock, who failed to hold up the ball on most occasions, rather than knocking it down in front of him for Baldock to run onto.

Before play I would have taken the first half performance, and a 2-1 loss is not too bad against a team expected to be much higher in the table than us. The problem for us is that next weekend at Forest is much the same story.


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