League round-up: Royals rise to the challenge as Long double sinks Rams

Shane Long scored twice as Reading beat Derby County 2-1 at Pride Park, a fourth consecutive Championship defeat for the Rams. The Royals' victory, their first in seven matches, lifted them from 14th to seventh in one of only six afternoon kick-offs.

Reading took the lead three minutes before the break when Long was brought down by the Rams defender Shaun Barker, who was booked. The Royals' striker inflicted further punishment when he fired in the penalty.

Derby levelled when Kris Commons headed in from a Paul Green cross. Adam Federici's saves kept the Royals level, and with two minutes left a deep Jobi McAnuff cross to the far post found Long unmarked and he headed in the winner.

Swansea City spurned their chance to break into the automatic promotion places when they lost 1-0 to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. Ched Evans, picked out by Andy Reid's perceptive pass, fired in a minute before the interval to give John Carver, the Blades' caretaker manager after Gary Speed left to take over the Wales national side, the perfect start.

"I'm delighted for the boys," Carver said. "It's not been the easiest week but they've responded in exactly the right fashion. It was a great goal. The pass from Andy Reid was excellent, perfectly weighted."

Jay Simpson scored twice as Hull City stretched their unbeaten run to six games with a 2-0 defeat of Bristol City at the KC Stadium. Cameron Stewart, on loan from Manchester United, set up Simpson's first, a simple finish in the 13th minute, and the striker doubled his tally just after the hour with a shot from 15 yards.

League One

The efforts of Exeter City groundstaff and helpers at St James Park paid off when the only match in the division saw Jamie Cureton score twice in a 5-1 thumping of Sheffield Wednesday. Level at 1-1 at the break, the Owls were swept aside by a 14-minute second-half three-goal blizzard. Wednesday stay second; Exeter move up to ninth, a point outside the play-offs.

Conference

The one match to finish saw football at Highbury Stadium, home of Fleetwood Town, as fourth-placed Newport County drew 1-1. Fleetwood are fifth. The only other Conference match to start was the noon kick-off at Kenilworth Road where Luton Town, York City and 6,125 hardy souls defied the elements for 55 minutes before the match was abandoned due to snow. The score at the time was 0-0.

Scotland

In the Premier, third-placed Hearts were held 1-1 by Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who have not lost away for 13 months. Liam Kelly scored twice as Kilmarnock beat Hibernian 2-1.

In the Irn-Bru First Division, Dundee, who are bottom after a 25-point deduction for going into administration, beat Stirling Albion 2-0; in the Second, Airdrie won 3-2 at Alloa; in the Third, Queens Park and Elgin drew 1-1.

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