Derby County stumbled to a 1-1 draw at home to Reading in their first home fixture of 2016.
Jason Shackell gave Paul Clement’s side the lead with an unmarked header in the opening stages of the game, before Daniel Williams hit back for the eye-catching Royals before half time.
There on, Lee Grant and his backline had to be at their best to preserve a point as the visitors pushed intently for a winner, but they were left frustrated in their efforts as Derby came away with a point on an evening where they had not been at their best.
Reading, residing in midtable ahead of the game, began proceedings as they played for the majority of the encounter at the iPro Stadium and held control – dictating the possession, the pace of the game and the territorial advantage. A manner of play that was just as eye-catching as their pink kit.
They had very little to show in terms of chances created though, Vydra’s volley on the turn, which flew well over the crossbar, was the only effort they had to show for their early dominance.
Brian McDermott, the Reading Manager, would have been left satisfied with the way his side’s approach to the game – less so with the opening goal they conceded on the stroke of the eleventh minute.
After Nick Blackman, the former Royal, saw a miscued shot saved by Ali Al Habsi at his near post, the resulting corner was nodded in by an unmarked Shackell in the six-yard box to break the deadlock.
The goal brought of an air of calm to the Rams as they began to get more of a foothold in the contest and with it, restricted Reading’s time on the ball.
Chris Martin came closest to adding to the scoreline before the half hour, as he spun to hit a loose ball over the top of Al Habsi’s crossbar, whilst Williams had Grant scurrying across his goal with a low drive that sailed narrowly wide.
The visitors re-established their control, finishing the half on the front foot and took advantage by getting back on level terms through Williams’ bullet header from Hal Robson-Kanu’s arching corner.
Williams then came close turning the game on its head, but was denied by Grant as he palmed his low shot away, before the Rams scrambled the loose ball clear of the danger zone.
Reading’s control was transferred into the opening stages of the second half, so much so they were threatening Derby’s nine unbeaten run at home.
Towards the hour and oozing so much fluency and flair, Grant was called into action to beat a Garath McCleary drive away at his near post, whilst a block took a Williams attempt from the edge of the area away for a corner.
For all their control, Derby nearly caught their opponents out on the break as Blackman saw a low drive well saved by Al Habsi after a neat exchange with Martin, but as the contest entered its final 10 minutes, Grant had to be at his best to ensure Derby ended the game with a point.
First the 33-year-old, superbly, tipped a Robson-Kanu drive behind for a corner at his far post, before having getting his fingertips to a looping header from Jake Cooper.
Oliver Norwood, the Reading Captain, saw a free kick on the edge of the area blocked expertly by the wall as the visitors piled on the pressure, but Clement’s side held on to extend their unbeaten home run to ten games.
Derby County: Grant, Christie, Keogh, Shackell, Warnock; Butterfield, Johnson (Hendrick, 65); Blackman, Ince, Russell (Camara, 76); Martin (C)
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Bent, Baird, Weimann, Shotton
Reading: Al Habsi, Gunter, Taylor, Norwood (C), Vydra, Robson-Kanu, McCleary, Ferdinand, Piazon, Williams, Cooper
Substitutes not used: Bond, Sa, Hurtado, John, Quinn, Cox, Keown
Attendance: 28,175 (297 Reading supporters)