Derby County saw their seven-game unbeaten run come to an abrupt end on Saturday afternoon after they fell to a shock 4-2 defeat against Reading.
The Royals gained a two-goal advantage within the first 12 minutes of the match and despite second-half pressure from the Rams, two further goals from the Royals comfortably secured their victory.
Both Johnny Russell and Chris Martin scored in the second half to provide Derby supporters with a glimmer of hope, but the earlier damage left Gary Rowett’s side with too much work to do.
Whilst Derby have become accustom to taking an advantage in the game early on, the complete opposite happened in this fixture as Liam Moore rose highest in the box within eight minutes to send Reading in front – a minute after Richard Keogh had been forced off injured.
And within four minutes of falling behind, things went from bad to worse for the Rams as they failed to clear their lines, allowing Sone Aluko to waltz into the area and convert from close-range.
With little chances falling their way after that, Derby took the opportunity to regroup at half-time and, after a quick start off the blocks, the Rams a handful of opportunities to peg one back, but it wasn’t quite falling their way.
And of them chances, Tom Lawrence had arguably the best one of them all after he well-struck volley on the edge of the area forced Vito Mannone into a meaningful reactive save.
All it takes is one lapse of concentration in football for the direction of a game to change and Curtis Davies learnt that lesson harshly on 54 minutes when his back pass was intercepted by Roy Beerens on the edge of the box and placed round a helpless Scott Carson.
Things continued to get progressively worse after that as Reading were presented with another one-on-one situation following a swift breakaway but a fantastic, brave, dive from Carson kept the deficit at three and denied Modou Barrow.
Derby did eventually manage to get one back through Russell, who capitalised on a loose ball inside the area, but a fourth goal for Reading courtesy of Barrow on 75 minutes saw Reading restore their influence on the game.
After that, substitute Martin provided the fans with a glimmer of hope for Derby thanks to his late goal on 90 minutes.
Unfortunately for the Rams, though, they had left too much to do and the referee confirmed Readings victory, marking a day to forget for the Rams.
Derby County: Carson, Wisdom, Keogh (Pearce, 8), Davies, Forsyth; Huddlestone, Johnson; Russell, Nugent, Lawrence; Winnall (Martin, 64)
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Baird, Weimann, Vydra, Thorne
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, McShane (C), Moore, Beerens, Swift, Aluko (Kermorgant, 53), Edwards, Barrow (Clement, 90), Bacuna, Richards (Blackett, 76)
Substitutes not used: Jaakkola, Popa, Andresson, Barrett
Attendance: 25,968 (738 away supporters)
The second half offered Rowett’s side with the opportunity to redeem themselves and the team created a handful of chances early on that could have changed the game.
As the saying goes though, patience is a virtue and Reading waited until the time was right to unleash another threatening counter-attack.
This came less than ten minutes after the start of the second-half and Beerens was the man to add to Reading’s tally, pretty much ending any chance of a comeback from the Rams.
Though the scoreline could suggest otherwise, Carson prevented a bad situation from being potentially worse, pulling off some exceptional saves throughout the game.
On another day, without the consistency of Carson, the scoreline could have been a lot harsher than it was.
A trip to Craven Cottage now awaits Rowett’s side as they look to bounce back from a performance to forget against Reading.
The Rams will have to wait two weeks to do so, though, as the league schedule makes way for the final international break of 2017.