Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the Championship clash between Reading
and Derby County
at the Madejski Stadium. Sixty-nine days after the previous campaign ended with Fulham beating Aston Villa in the playoff final, and 89 days after the Royals last kicked a ball, we go again in the most competitive of divisions.
Reading struggled last season and avoided the drop by the skin of their teeth, while opponents Derby fell short in the playoffs
and are now under the management of Chelsea midfield legend Frank Lampard
. The Rams have been tipped to match last season's playoff finish in Lampard's maiden campaign at the club, but for the hosts it may be another long campaign.
READING TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Mannone; Yiadom, Richards, Ilori, McShane; Meyler, Kelly; Swift, Aluko, Barrow; Bodvarsson
SUBS: Walker, O'Shea, Bacuna, Baldock, Meite, Clement, McNulty
Starting with a look at the team named by Paul Clement
, the former Swansea City boss - brought in by Reading with a couple of months of last season left to play - has named summer signings Andy Yiadom and David Meyler in his starting lineup. Four other newbies are available from the bench, meanwhile, with John O'Shea, Sam Walker, Marc McNulty and latest signing Sam Baldock all included in the matchday squad.
Reading will likely line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, which will be spearheaded by Jon Dadi Bodvarsson
. The trio of Modou Barrow, Sone Aluko and John Swift, the latter of whom needs to stay injury free this season, will provide support from attacking midfield. It could be a big evening for Liam Kelly and the aforementioned Meyler in the engine room, meanwhile, up against a lively Derby side.
DERBY COUNTY TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Carson; Wisdom, Bryson, Keogh, Lowe; Bryson, Ledley, Mount; Wilson, Nugent, Lawrence
SUBS: Roos, Jozefzoon, Johnson, Pearce, Bennett, Thomas, Bogle
Like opposite number Clement, Lampard has named two debutants in his first starting lineup of the season. Much is expected of Mason Mount
and Harry Wilson, with the two men forcing their way into Lampard's plans after joining on loan from Chelsea and Liverpool respectively. In fact, this is the same XI that overcome Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 last weekend in the Rams' final pre-season outing.
The only changes come on the bench, where Lampard has been forced to cut his squad down to 18 players, but youngsters Jayden Bogle and Luke Thomas make the cut. Jack Marriott and George Evans are surprisingly overlooked for selection, although they are still settling into their new surroundings and Lampard clearly wants to ease them in. Tom Huddlestone, Marcus Olsson, Matej Vydra and Ikechi Anya are the other notable absentees.
Reading are now under the management of Clement following the departure of Jaap Stam in March. Clement took over with the club in 20th place, which is where they would go on to finish a couple of months later, three points above the relegation zone. The Royals went into the final day of the season with their Championship status still yet to be confirmed, but results went their way and they managed to stay up.
Clement's men failed to win any of their final five matches of last season and won just three of 26 from the beginning of November, which continued into a winless pre-season. Three defeats and three draws over the summer would not have helped with confidence, and it remains to be seen whether Clement's strategy to bring in experienced faces will pay off. Yiadom and Meyler start tonight, while John O'Shea is among the subs.
Reading failed to score in their final three matches of last season, but Clement has responded by signing Marc McNulty and Sam Baldock. Neither player starts tonight, however, so it is down to Bodvarsson and the trip behind him to step things up tonight. The Championship is the most unpredictable of leagues, and the Royals will therefore be confident of proving wrong those who have tipped them for relegation.
Derby have had a far more positive pre-season, winning four of their five matches - including that 2-1 triumph over Midlands rivals Wolves last weekend. Lampard, embarking on his first job as a manager after a short spell working in punditry, has offloaded ageing players and brought in some exciting new talent. Darren Bent, Chris Baird, Jason Shackell and Jason Weimann have been replaced by George Evans Jack Marriott, Mason Mount and Harry Wilson.
The Rams looked good value for automatic promotion at one point last season, only to yet again slip away - this time under Gary Rowett, who has since jumped ship to this season's title favourites Stoke City. County went on a two-month winless run to slip from second down to fifth, and they were then edged out by Fulham over two legs in the playoff semi-finals. Expectations are slightly lower this time, but anything less than the top six would be a disappointment.
DID YOU KNOW? Derby County have a reputation for badly fading away in the Championship. That was best epitomised last season, as they won 57% of their games in the first half of the campaign, compared to 30% in the second half. The year before it was 48% and 30%, while going further back it was 56% and 35%, 52% and 39%, 56% and 52%, 39% and 30%. It is worth pointing out that Lampard is their sixth manager in six years.
The last three Championship encounters between Reading and Derby have produced 17 goals - nine for the Royals and eight for the Rams. This corresponding fixture last season finished 3-3, so fingers crossed for similar entertainment tonight in this curtain-raising fixture. Ten months of Championship action starts here, with both sets of players making their way on to the field.
KICKOFF: The 2018-19 EFL season is officially under way! A more youthful looking Derby County side get us up and running and the Madejski Stadium, against a Reading side now more focused on experienced heads rather than ball-players.
A shaky start for the visitors, but a cross into the middle was cut out before a Reading player could get on the end of it. The match has now settled down a little, with County the team seeing more of the ball early on.
Sone Aluko swings a deep free kick into the opposition box, where Richard Keogh was waiting to head it clear. Derby have yet to get the ball into the Reading area, with focus instead on knocking the ball from defence and into midfield.
SAVE! The first chance of the contest - and indeed the Championship season - falls the way of Reading forward Bodvarsson. The Iceland international was slipped through by John Swift following an error in the Derby defence, but he was unable to knock the ball past the outrushing Scott Carson.
SAVE! Derby have been disappointing in the opening nine minutes, failing to get the ball into the Reading final third and so nearly coming unstuck at the other end. Bodvarsson has just had a weak shot kept out after a clearance landed in his path.
Credit to Reading for applying plenty of pressure whenever their opponents are in possession. Derby have just stepped things up, however, winning themselves a corner that David Meyler got to first at the front post.
It is not quite happening for Derby in the middle of the field at the moment. Lawrence is caught in possession and then takes out Aluko, which the referee probably should have booked him for. The Royals have been the better side so far.
For all the talent in the Derby midfield and frontline, they have not found any sort of rhythm. Again, much credit has to go to Reading for stifling their opponents, and Clement's biggest concern will be Bodvarsson's failure to convert from his two chances.
Bodvarsson needed to roll the ball to his right and Swift would have been in on goal. The pass was overhit, however, and the chance went begging. That all came from a dreadful Keogh pass, with Derby proving to be their own worst enemy.
SHOT! Tom Lawrence
cuts inside on his right and looked to curl the ball into the far corner from 15 yards. The shot was pretty atrocious, though, with the ball flying well wide of the target. Lampard will not be best pleased with these opening 19 minutes.
Not sure about the severity of Matej Vydra's injury, but Lampard would surely prefer to have the prolific Czech striker - last season's top scorer in the Championship - spearheading his side instead of David Nugent. His move to Leeds is off and he will surely now stay at Derby.
YELLOW CARD! Mo Barrow goes on a direct run and is taken out by Andre Wisdom, who becomes the first player to be shown a yellow card. Liam Kelly swings in the free kick from out wide, which Scott Carson was happy to punch away with both fists.
Reading, coming into this game on the back of a poor pre-season, have been the more direct of the two teams and should probably be in front. Bodvarsson squandered a couple of opportunities in the opening quarter of the contest.
Approaching the half-hour mark at the Madejski Stadium and Derby have still yet to get going. Lampard's men looked positive in their pre-season outings, but none of that direct running has been on display in Berkshire.
Reading are just so more direct that Derby - a complete contrast to what we became accustomed to last season. Rather than knocking the ball around, they are looking to get it into the box whenever they can, and it is causing some problems.
A first half of few chances - a little disappointing considering the amount of goals in this fixture last season! The two best openings so far have fallen the way of Reading forward Bodvarsson, who was twice thwarted by Scott Carson.
Another good piece of play from Mo Barrow down the left, running into space and sending a ball towards the back post. John Swift was closest to it, but even at full stretch he could not quite get a toe to the ball.
Can only assume that Derby will get better in the second half once Lampard has a chance to say a few words to his players. Clement will want more of the same - and some more clinical finishing would not go amiss, either!
YELLOW CARD! David Meyler is cautioned for a strong challenge in midfield. Tom Lawrence is unhappy because the loose bell fell nicely to him and he had space to run into, but the referee was too quick to blow his whistle.
YELLOW CARD! We have now officially had more yellow cards than chances at the Madejski Stadium! Liam Kelly slid in on Mason Mount to prevent the counter-attack, seeing him join David Meyler and Andre Wisdom in earning a caution.
This first half is petering out, with four minutes to go until the referee blows for the interval. Derby have been poor and Reading not much better over the past 15 minutes, but prior to that the Royals looked lively in the final third.
SAVE! Derby have given the ball away seven or eight times in this first half. The ball is shifted across to Liam Kelly towards the right-hand side of the box, and his powerful drive was helped behind by Carson. From the corner Ilori's header was blocked on the line by Carson.
YELLOW CARD! Craig Bryson has to take one for the time, wiping out Liam Kelly following a quick throw out from Carson that missed the mark. Half time at the Madejski Stadium is now just a matter of seconds away.
HALF TIME: READING 0-0 DERBY COUNTY
Harry Wilson smashes a free kick over the crossbar from the final meaningful act of the first half, after Sone Aluko cut the ball onto his left boot and curled wide up the other end. Reading have had the better of things, and manager Paul Clement
will wonder how his side have failed to take a lead into the break.
Both sides had a couple of debutants in their starting lineups for this curtain-raising fixture in the EFL, but it was the hosts who settled the quicker. Looking far more direct than last season, the ball was worked forward and a couple of early openings went begging for Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
An error at the back allowed John Swift to slot the ball through for Bodvarsson, who could not quite flick the ball past the outrushing Scott Carson, and the Derby keeper was well positioned to keep out the Icelandic striker's weaker effort two minutes later. Derby, starting their sixth successive campaign with a new manager, looked disjointed and failed to create a single chance in the opening 45 minutes.
Paul Clement's biggest frustration heading into the interval would have been his side's failure to take the lead, with Swift being kept out by Carson at his near post late in the half and Tiago Ilori's header being kept out from the resulting corner. County's only shots so far have been wayward, summed up by that Wilson free kick right at the end.
READING SUBS: Walker, O'Shea, Bacuna, Baldock, Meite, Clement, McNulty
DERBY COUNTY SUBS: Roos, Jozefzoon, Johnson, Pearce, Bennett, Thomas, Bogle
Reading get us back up and running at the Madejski Stadium in this opening Championship fixture of the season. No changes made by either manager at the break, so Frank Lampard
clearly giving his starters a chance to turn things around.
YELLOW CARD! Four yellow cards in the first half and it has taken less than two minutes of the second half for Max Lowe to be cautioned. The referee had little choice, in fairness, as the Derby defender slid in on a sharp Sone Aluko.
DISALLOWED GOAL! A first chance for David Nugent leads to the ball nestling into the back of the net. The striker did well to get on the end of the cross, bu unfortunately for him the offside flag was correctly raised, cutting the celebrations short.
Aluko is carrying a knock at the moment and may not last to see the hour mark - a blow for Reading. The Royals have McNulty and Baldock on the bench, though, which may tempt Clement to go with two up top for the remainder.
GOAL! READING 1-0 DERBY COUNTY (JON DADI BODVARSSON)
Derby have looked better in the early stages of the second half, but some sloppy play in midfield and poor defending has gifted Reading the opening goal. Mo Barrow swung the ball in from the left wing and Bodvarsson got between two men to guide his header out of Scott Carson's reach.
The Madejski Stadium has finally awoken after that Bodvarsson opener. The Iceland international missed a couple of openings in the first half, but none of that matters now because he has buried his first chance of the second period.
Clement has a couple of strikers on the bench in Baldock and McNulty, and we will surely see at least one of those before the end of the match - even if Reading are sitting a goal to the good. The onus is now on Lampard, whose side require a goal.
CHANCE! Pretty much Derby's best opportunity of the match. The ball looked as though it was going to fall perfectly for Harry Wilson, but he could not quite get a shot away. Joe Ledley was unable to make the desired contact from the follow-up, with Vito Mannone collecting the ricochet.
GOAL! READING 1-1 DERBY COUNTY (MASON MOUNT)
An absolute howler from Vito Mannone gifts Derby an equaliser. Mason Mount has been on the periphery all evening, but his shot from distance has somehow crept through the Reading goalkeeper's grasp, even after he got down and across to it.
So nearly a quickfire second for Derby, as Wilson lofts the ball over the top for Mount, who could not quite bring it under control - maybe he should have hit it first time. Which manager will blink first by making a change?
To say Derby didn't deserve that goal would be a huge understatement. Reading were good value for their lead, and if not for a huge Mannone error they would still be sitting pretty. A little under 25 minutes left to play in Berkshire.
READING SUB! Here comes that first change of the evening, and Paul Clement has indeed decided to throw on another striker by turning to debutant Sam Baldock. John Swift is the man to make way, with 22 minutes left to play here.
DERBY COUNTY SUB! Frank Lampard's first change is an enforced one, as Joe Ledley has picked up a knock and has been replaced by Bradley Johnson. Mason Bennett looks as though he will be the next player brought on.
It has been a far livelier second half, with both teams managing to find the back of the net following a goalless first 45. The changes made by both managers could well decide which of these sides - if any - comes away with all three points.
DERBY COUNTY SUB! David Nugent, whose only real involvement on the match was that disallowed goal early in the second half, makes way for Mason Bennett. Hard to believe that he is now into his eighth season as a professional at the age of 22.
READING SUB! The managers are starting to treat this like a pre-season friendly now with the constant flow of subs. Opening goalscorer Jon Dadi Bodvarsson is replaced by Yakou Meite, leaving Sam Baldock to lead the line on his own.
SHOT! A corner into the Reading box caused some panic. It was eventually worked to Tom Lawrence, who drifted in from the left flank and sent his shot wide of the target from 18 yards. Still plenty of time for a winning goal...
Ten minutes to go at the Madejski Stadium and it is Derby who are in control of the match. The Rams have been far from their best this evening, yet a point - or indeed all three - would not be the worst return from this opener.
Clement will be disappointed by the nature of Derby's goals, but like Lampard there are positives to take from this match if the scoreline stays this way. As was the case 12 months ago on the opening days of the Championship season, we are heading towards a 1-1 draw.
Bradley Johnson, brought on by Lampard as one of two changes in this second half, smashes his first-time shot a good six or seven yards wide of goal from outside the area. Neither side able to really create anything since Mount's leveller.
SAVE! Mannone, at fault for Derby's equaliser, bails his side out here. McShane let Mount's cross go right the way across the box, and Wilson looked as though he was going to help it over the line at the back post. The shot was scuffed, though, and Manone was there to produce the save.
The visitors have looked the more likely to snatch a winner over the past 20 minutes. Any goal now would surely win it, and at the moment Reading are having to stand firm at the back. Ilori's cross at the other end is cut out at the front post.
YELLOW CARD! A booking apiece for Bradley Johnson and Yakou Meite. The former was angry with the way his opponent led with an elbow; his reaction earning him a caution. We are now into additional time, of which there will be a further four minutes.
Reading are now the side knocking the ball around, looking to work it into the Derby box. I think both managers will be happy enough with a point, in truth - not the worst result for either side from this opening fixture of the season.
GOAL! READING 1-2 DERBY COUNTY (TOM LAWRENCE)
Derby have won the match in the final minute of added time! Mason Bennett swung in a ball from the right and Tom Lawrence leapt highest to guide the ball into the far corner via his head. That is an unbelievable header from the Welshman!
FULL TIME: READING 1-2 DERBY COUNTY
Frank Lampard's first game in management ends in victory, as his Derby County side nicked a 2-1 win away at Reading in what proved to be a dramatic contest in Berkshire. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson opened the scoring early in the second half, but Vito Mannone's howler gifted Mason Mount a leveller and then Tom Lawrence scored a brilliant headed winner right at the death.
That concludes Sports Mole
's live text coverage of events from the Madejski Stadium. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here
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