Derby earn point with late fightback at Reading

Derby County’s bold Championship survival fight continued after they snatched a dramatic 2-2 draw at Reading with two goals in the last five minutes.

The Derby manager, Wayne Rooney, missed the game after feeling unwell – although a Covid-19 test came back negative. Liam Rosenior took charge in his absence but the visitors flattered to deceive in a lacklustre first-half display at the Madejski Stadium.

Reading, who have also been hit by a points deduction – six points, compared to Derby’s 21 – had the first clear-cut chance when Andy Carroll’s header was saved by Ryan Allsop. The hosts took the lead in the 37th minute when from Carroll’s knockdown, Junior Hoilett curled home a superb strike from distance.

Derby rallied, with Ryan Plange sending a close-range header over the crossbar before half-time. Luke Southwood then saved smartly from a fierce Tom Lawrence effort as Derby sought an equaliser –only for Hoilett to pounce from close range 11 minutes into the second half after Tom Holmes nodded on a deep free-kick from Alen Halilovic.

The visitors looked set to fall 14 points from safety before a remarkable late fightback, sparked by an 86th-minute error from Southwood. The Reading keeper fumbled a high ball, which ricocheted into the net off substitute Colin Kazim-Richards. Derby pushed forward and Curtis Davies’ stoppage-time header earned an unlikely point.

Elsewhere, Andrew Hughes struck a late Preston winner as they came from behind to win 2-1 at Stoke City. Hughes headed home Ben Whiteman’s 84th-minute corner as new North End manager Ryan Lowe earned his second straight win since taking over.

Stoke took the lead after 46 minutes courtesy of defender Ben Wilmot’s goal-of-the-season contender, a thumping 35-yard effort inside the first minute of the second half. Michael O’Neill’s play-off hopefuls failed to press home their advantage and were punished by Brad Potts’ spectacular equaliser 13 minutes later.

There appeared little danger when Daniel Johnson collected a pass wide on Stoke’s right. But the Jamaica international sent over a superb cross which was volleyed home in acrobatic fashion by Potts. Worse was to come for the hosts as Hughes climbed unmarked to head home his first goal in three years.

Stoke are now five points off the play-offs after conceding a late winner for the second game running, and have now won just one of their last eight home games in all competitions. Preston are 14th but just four points behind Stoke, with a game in hand.

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