Derby County fell to a 3-1 defeat to Reading at Madeski Stadium on Easter Monday.
After the Rams had a shot off the post and two shots saved in quick succession in the first half, Michael Olise’s strike from the edge of the box in the final kick of the half gave the hosts the lead.
George Puscas was on hand to double their lead ten minutes into the second half.
Tom Lawrence pulled a goal back with a Goal of the Season-contender of a strike from range as Derby looked to put on a comeback attempt.
However, a third goal coming from Lucas Joao soon after killed their hopes of getting anything out of the game.
The three best chances of the opening 20 minutes fell to Derby and in quick succession.
They hit the Royals on the counter-attack and Graeme Shinnie found Tom Lawrence with space to break down the left. He cut back to Craig Forsyth who sent a perfectly weighted cross into the middle of the box for Colin Kazim-Richards to powerfully head on.
He effort rattled off the cross bar and rebounded straight to Lawrence, still on the left of the area. He rifled a first-chance shot towards the bottom corner, but Rafael Cabral got down to meet the near post.
The ball rebounded off the keeper made its way back to Kazim-Richards in the middle of the area, who created enough space to fire off a shot forcing a brilliant save from the Reading stopper to palm the ball over his crossbar.
The Rams were dealt with a blow with 15 minutes left to play in the half when Nathan Byrne was forced off the pitch. He did brilliantly to head clear in the box, but there was a clash of heads as he directed his head around and Kornell McDonald came on as his replacement.
In the final minutes of the half, Kazim-Richards looked to create an opportunity on the edge of the box and was fouled. Referee John Moss blew his whistle for a free-kick rather than playing the advantage.
Tom Lawrence lifted the free-kick effort over the cross bar from 25 yards out.
However, it was Reading how grabbed the lead in the final kick ahead of the break. They work the ball around the edge of the area well, with Ovie Ejaria and Josh Laurent playing a quick one-two on the left of the area, before Laurent squared to Olise to pull the trigger from the edge of the box and into the roof of the net.
Within moments of the restart, Reading was in the Derby box and Ejaria went down under pressure by Andre Wisdom, but the host’s appeals for a penalty were waved off by the referee.
Just ten minutes later, it was Derby’s turn to shout for a penalty, but saw their appeals waved off as well. Jason Knight slipped the ball through to Sibley in the area and Sibley appeared to be pulled down.
Immediately down the other end, Reading doubled their lead. Yakou Meite unleashed from range drawing a stop from David Marshall, but he pushed the effort into the path of Puscas who reacted quickly to smash the rebound past Marshall from close range.
Another great opportunity came from a counter-attack for Derby just after the hour mark.
Having just come off the bench, Kamil Jozwiak won the ball back and squared to Max Bird on the halfway line. The midfielder sent a brilliant low pass through the backline for Lawrence to run on to, but he couldn’t quite get the footing to take the shot before Cabral collected.
Immediately after, the Rams were threating again. Shinnie found Kazim-Richards just inside the area. He looked to take the shot initially, but Omar Richards slid into block. It fell well again for Kazim-Richards who crossed this time and Jack Stretton was inches from getting his first senior Derby goal as the slide to poke home just missed the ball.
Cabral was called into make a brilliant save with 20 minutes left to play. As Derby looked to work out an opening on the edge of the box, the ball was poked out to Bird 25-yards out. He shifted his footing and took aim with a powerful left-footed shot that hurtled towards the top corner, but the Royals’ keeper dived to meet it.
A chance fell for the hosts in the 77th minute when Olise slipped the ball into the path of Meite to go one-on-on-one with Marshall and the Rams’ keeper made a good save to deny the low shot.
Moments later, shouts from Reading for a penalty when Meite went down in the box were dismissed by Moss and Derby took advantage and charged down the other end. An initial shot was headed clear but into a wide-open Lawrence. He took a touch and set himself with the outside of his foot before sending a rocket from range into the top corner.
However, a mix-up in the penalty area saw Reading seal the three points with five minutes left to play as Joao poked in from close range.
Reading: Cabral, Richards, Moore (C), Olise (Semedo, 82), Rinomhota, Meite (Aluko, 89), Ejaria (Esteves, 89), Yiadom, Laurent, Holmes, Puscas (Joao, 82).
Substitutes: Southwood, Baldock, Gibson, Tetek, Dorsett.
Derby County: Marshall (C), Wisdom, Forsyth, Shinnie, Bird, Lawrence, Byrne (McDonald, 35), Kazim-Richards, Mengi, Sibley (Jozwiak, 62), Knight (Stretton, 62 (Roberts, 81)).
Substitutes: Roos, Buchanan, Bateman, Baningime, Watson.