Hunt goal seals result at Pride Park
14th February 2012
Attendance: 22,567 (521 away)
A first goal since November for Noel Hunt was good enough to earn Reading all three points at Pride Park and continue their play-off charge.
Royals boss Brian McDermott made just one change to the side that defeated Coventry just three days ago, as Welsh international Hal Robson-Kanu returned from injury to replace Joseph Mills, who dropped to the bench.
The visitors started the game the better, with the strike force of Jason Roberts and Noel Hunt looking lively and attempting to link up. Derby responded to this pressure with attacks of their own, but the first half chance fell to the Royals.
The returning Hal Robson-Kanu got the ball and delivered an inviting pass across the goal but Roberts couldn`t find a touch to take it in. However, the first shot of the game was from the hosts as Barker`s free kick met the head of Callum Ball, but was straight at Federici.
The best chance of the game fell to Jimmy Kebe on 15 minutes. Robson-Kanu again was the architect as his pinpoint cross fell nicely for the unmarked Kebe but just missed the ball running into the box. Former Royals Nathan Tyson then had an effort which Federici dealt comfortably with.
Hunt then had a decent chance towards the end of the half after good work from Roberts but the half eventually fizzled out. It turned about to be a rather lazy half from both sides, with both teams playing two games in a three day period.
Derby decided to match the Royals` 4-4-2 formation after the break as they brought on Steve Davies for Craig Bryson, but the half started in a similar fashion to the whole first, poor. Hunt and Kebe continued to look dangerous for the visitors, with Reading looking most likely to score.
Despite a lack of quality, the deadlock was eventually broken in the 61st minute. With Derby trying to look for the all crucial goal, Brian McDermott`s side were always going to be a threat on the break and it proved so as Kebe weaved away from his man and put in a perfect cross for Noel Hunt to head home.
Roberts almost doubled that lead within minutes but was closed down after clever footwork from the striker. Derby rallied in the final ten minutes and injury time but the Royals defence did well to hold out the pressing hosts and record their eight win in ten games.
Derby: Fielding, Green, Shackell, Barker, Roberts, Hendrick, Carroll, Bryson, Ward, Tyson, Ball
Subs: Legzdins, Buxton, Bailey, Davies, Robinson
Reading: Federici, Connolly, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Kebe, Karacan, Leigertwood, Robson-Kanu, Hunt, Roberts
Subs: Andersen, Mills, Tabb, Church, Le Fondre