REPORT: Derby County 2-1 Reading
Derby County got back to winning ways in the Sky Bet Championship as they edged their encounter at home to Reading on Saturday.
It should perhaps have been more comfortable than it was for the hosts, who got off to a flyer with Duane Holmes' first Rams goal in the early minutes and had doubled that lead before the break through Harry Wilson's deflected shot.
But as fatigue set in in the latter stages, Sone Aluko pulled one back in the second-half as Reading sniffed a point or more, but they ultimately lacked the quality in the final third to hurt the Rams any more and Frank Lampard's men held on to take all three points and remain in the top six.
It took Derby just three minutes to get the opener and it was a lovely goal. Great work in midfield between Tom Huddlestone and Wilson led to the latter threading a fine through ball in for Holmes who ran on and finished well past Anssi Jaakkola.
Two minutes later, the Royals' keeper made an error which handed the ball to Jack Marriott but he could only chip wide from just outside the penalty area.
Wilson then dragged a shot wide following a Scott Malone pull back as Derby continued their good start, Reading all over the place at the back as Marriott then saw a shot saved by Jaakkola's legs.
Reading gradually began to ease into the game after that, their main creator being John Swift who should have scored on 22 minutes but mis-hit a shot wide from six yards out after a ball in from Mo Barrow.
The game then dropped into something of a lull as neither side could keep possession and the Rams failed to capitalise on Reading's hesitant defending.
But it was 2-0 five minutes before half-time as the Rams reached the Reading penalty area once again and when the ball was squared to Wilson just outside it, his shot took a heavy deflection off defender Andy Rinomhota which wrong-footed Jaakkola and found the net to give the Rams a healthy half-time lead.
Barrow fired just too high in the opening minutes of the second-half as Reading opened well, then Swift's free-kick was similarly not low enough to test Kelle Roos soon afterwards.
Martyn Waghorn saw a goal ruled out for offside before Wilson shot too high following Marriott's flicked pass, then Mason Mount put the ball wide at the far post from a Fikayo Tomori cross.
But it was Tomori who then gifted Reading the ball to enable them to make it 2-1. His loose pass was pounced upon by Ovie Ejaria and he put sub Sone Aluko in on goal, the half-time arrival finishing well.
Chances again dried up as Reading battled to force an equaliser and Derby struggled to make their counter-attacks count, fatigue a possible problem for the Rams following their exploits just three days previously at Southampton.
But despite Reading huffing and puffing for a leveller it wouldn't come their way and the Rams held on to take the victory.
Derby: Roos, Tomori, Keogh (c), H Wilson (Evans 90), Mount, Waghorn, Marriott (Bennett 78), Holmes (Nugent 86), Bogle, Huddlestone, Malone
Subs not used: Mitchell, Bird, Buchanan, T Wilson
Reading: Jaakkola, Yiadom, Moore (c), Bacuna, Swift, Baker (Aluko 46), Barrow (McCleary 73), Ejaria, Ilori, Bodvarsson (Loader 64), Rinomhotta
Subs not used: Walker, Gunter, Blackett, Richards
Ref: Andy Woolmer