Derby County were denied a second straight Sky Bet Championship victory on the cusp of added time as Reading struck on 90 minutes to preserve their unbeaten home record.
The Rams looked set to claim their third straight win at the Madejski Stadium as Matěj Vydra struck against his former employers in the second half, flicking a loose ball into the far corner after a strong start to the second 45 minutes.
The 24-year-old Czech Republic international could have added a crucial second, but was superbly denied by Ali Al Habi, before George Evans’ close range finish meant the hosts could breathe a sigh of relief.
The result ensured that the visitors, Derby, went into the second international break of the season on the back of four points from six, following their 2-0 midweek win over Cardiff City.
The opening 45 minutes of this contest saw Derby sit deep in a bid to soak up the pressure that Reading attempted to pose early on.
Jaap Stam’s side boasted the best possession statistics in the division after the first two months of the 2016/17 campaign and that showed in Berkshire again as they, patiently, sought to craft their openings, but to little avail.
Kermorgant registered the hosts first chance, bending an effort wide from the edge of the area after the Rams’ backline pedalled away from the 34-year-old forward, but that aside, it was a relatively comfortably half for the visitors.
Dogged at the back, Derby, sporting their new marine coloured third kit, restricted the Royals to very few sniffs in front of their own penalty area and very little separated the two sides as two possession-based outfits merely cancelled each other out. That showed as only the contest’s second opportunity was registered after 34 minutes – Derby’s first sighting of the game.
After one of their own strong passages of play down the right, Cyrus Christie slipped a pass into the feet of Tom Ince in a central position, who, with time, could only shoot straight at Al Habsi.
The same man sent a free kick over the crossbar shortly after, but Stam’s men, in added time, had a big opportunity to go into the half time interval a goal up.
Garath McCleary, restored to the side following his suspension, whipped in a corner which Kermorgant connected powerfully with to turn it towards goal, but Carson was alert to get two strong hands to the ball, before it was hacked clear.
Derby were much more of a threat in the second half as they built on their solid display over the first 45 minutes.
After a couple of half chances during a period of dominance, the Rams broke the deadlock shortly after the hour mark as Vydra, facing his former club, flicked a loose ball into the far corner of the goal after a free kick from Christie had been deflected into his path.
Reading sought an immediate response. John Swift, the former Chelsea youth star, saw a free kick thwarted by Carson, whilst Callum Harriott, the substitute, saw his follow up blocked by a resilient Derby defence.
Finely poised, the visitors had a crucial opportunity to double their advantage, but Reading were indebted to Al Habsi as he, superbly, denied Vydra after he connected with Ikechi Anya’s fine ball into the box from the left.
It proved to be vital as Reading hit back on the cusp of added time through Evans to preserve their unbeaten home record, although it took another fine stop from Al Habi to deny Jacob Butterfield to ensure that was the case in a frantic and end to end conclusion in Berkshire.
Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter (Mendes, 81), Obita, McShane (c), Moore, Evans, Swift, Williams, Beerens, McCleary (Harriott, 65), Kermorgant
Substitutes not used: Jaakkola, Wieser, Gravenberch, Watson, Kelly
Derby County: Carson, Christie, Keogh (C), Pearce, Olsson (Baird, 77); Johnson, Butterfield, Hughes (Russell, 82); Ince, Anya, Vydra (Blackman, 85)
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Bent, Wilson, Weimann
Attendance: 17,002 (1,565 Derby supporters)