Reading 1-2 Derby County Six Things: Lawrence steals the show


Lamps celebrates –

Tom Lawrence scored an injury-time winner on the opening night of the 2018-19 Championship season for Derby County, who were 2-1 victors at Reading. Here’s six things from the game.

Derby’s disjointed start

The first 15 minutes showed the challenges that Frank Lampard has ahead. He wants to build a more expansive Derby side, but some of the players in that side, notably at centre-back and defensive midfield, are not necessarily suited to that transition. Richard Keogh didn’t look comfortable having the ball for long spells and he played several careless passes early on, which fed into Reading’s hand. Modou Barrow, renowned for his pace and power, thrived on the space in behind and caused problems for an under-cooked Andre Wisdom.

Two sides to Bodvarsson

Reading stifled Derby in that first half, thanks to the excellent covering work of David Meyler and Liam Kelly, but they lacked ruthlessness in the final third. Part of that was down to good goalkeeping from Scott Carson, who denied striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson one-on-one on 12 minutes, but the Icelander’s strong first touch tended to disrupt the fluency of Reading’s attacks. On 52 minutes however, we saw what Bodvarsson is good at – he headed home the opener after a sumptuous cross from Barrow.

Mare for Mannone

Vito Mannone had had a quiet first hour, which might have impacted his concentration. Mason Mount, who had endured a quiet afternoon relative to the expectations of him, applied his gaffer’s “don’t shoot, don’t score” motto. The Chelsea loanee showed the bravery to shift the ball onto his weaker left foot and shoot from distance; he was in luck, as Mannone let the ball slip through his fingers to draw the visitors level. That moment was one factor behind the momentum shifting Derby’s way in the final half hour, but the other was Lampard’s substitutions…

Importance of subs 

Joe Ledley had been overrun by more mobile players at times but Bradley Johnson, who replaced him, offered the physical qualities to grab hold of the midfield, as the opponents dropped ever deeper. Mason Bennett also made an impact with his raw energy; the forward played a pivotal role in the injury-time winner. He latched onto Andre Wisdom’s throw and hit a cross from the right-channel for Lawrence, who angled his header from around the 18-yard-line into the far corner, sparking delirium in the stands and dug-out.

Royals pay price for dropping standards

That late goal represented a body-blow for Reading but in truth, their performance had dropped in the second half. As well as veterans Paul McShane and David Meyler had held things together in the first half, their energy levels were diminished and thus the point at which the midfield engaged with the ball became deeper as the second half went on. Although Reading can take a few positives, notably the way they started the game and Modou Barrow’s first hour, they have only themselves to blame.

Delight for Derby

This was far from a complete performance from the Rams, who are now 3/1 for promotion with some bookmakers –¬†get free bets no deposit here. If they are to live up to their billing as top two contenders, they must begin games with far more conviction – starting with next week’s clash with rivals Leeds. However, Lawrence’s late goal relieves an element of pressure and allows their rookie boss to make those alterations free from the microscope.