October 21, 2021

Reading beat Derby to maintain play-off pursuit

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Reading bolstered their Championship play-off hopes with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Derby.

Derby had the better chances in a low-key first half but Reading went ahead on the brink of the interval through a long-range strike from 19-year-old winger Michael Olise.

The hosts went further ahead when George Puscas tucked in from close range in the 57th minute, but Tom Lawrence made it 2-1 with 11 minutes left.

Substitute Lucas Joao then secured the home win with his 22nd goal of the season in the 84th minute.

Image: Michael Olise (R) celebrates his opening goal

Reading went into the match at the Madejski Stadium in sixth place, just one point ahead of fellow play-off chasers Bournemouth, who had a game in hand.

But the Berkshire side had been in mediocre form, without a win in four outings after three 1-1 draws and a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham.

Derby had also been struggling, having endured a seven-match winless run and flirted with the relegation scrap last month.

However, a welcome 2-0 home victory over Luton on Friday had eased Wayne Rooney’s team eight points clear of the danger zone.

In an untidy opening Reading offered the most going forward, mainly through the hard running of Puscas.

Olise almost latched on to a long Andy Rinomhota pass but was denied by onrushing goalkeeper David Marshall.

After a slow start Derby gradually got into their stride – and somehow failed to break the deadlock with an astonishing four efforts in the same pinball incident.

First Colin Kazim-Richards nodded against a post from a Craig Forsyth cross, then home ‘keeper Rafael saved superbly from Lawrence on the follow-up.

As the ball again ran free Max Bird had a shot blocked before Kazim-Richards was thwarted by another fine stop from Rafael.

Neither side impressed thereafter until Olise’s stunner in the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half.

The Frenchman collected the ball 25 yards out and unleashed a fierce drive that whistled past Marshall for his sixth goal of the season.

It came from Reading’s first shot of the game – and they increased their advantage 12 minutes into the second period.

Yakou Meite cut in from the right flank and let fly from outside the area, forcing Marshall into a smart save, but Puscas reacted the quickest to stab home the loose ball.

Derby responded well, with Kazim-Richards shooting across the face of the home goal and Rafael making an excellent stop to deny Bird.

And they reduced the gap in the 79th minute when Lawrence thundered a powerful long-range attempt past Rafael.

But Joao made the game safe for Reading six minutes from time, slotting in after Tom Holmes’ flick-on from a Lewis Gibson free-kick.