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Derby County vs Reading match report: Rams see play-off hopes crushed as heavy defeat allows Brentfford to sneak into top-six

Derby 0 Reading 3: Goals from Kwesi Appiah, Michael Hector and Garath McCleary sealed the win as Darren Bent missed a penalty

Tim Evershed
Saturday 02 May 2015 20:34 BST
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Derby fell out of the play-off positions on the final day
Derby fell out of the play-off positions on the final day (Getty Images)

Derby County fans suffered more late promotion heartache yesterday as an "angry" Steve McClaren watched his team lose at home and, after being top as recently as February, end up being pushed outside the play-off places in the final match of the regular season.

Reading tore up the form book to run out easy 3-0 winners and condemn McClaren’s men to eighth place. After last season’s 90th-minute defeat to QPR in the play-off final, it was another furstrating blow for Derby supporters to endure.

And the club’s prospects for next season will now be clouded by McClaren’s rumoured departure to Newcastle United. The former England manager again denied any contact with the club and then claimed the speculation had not affected his team’s form.

Kwesi Appiah celebrates scoring the opener (Getty Images)

He said: “I’m angry and disappointed at the way the season has finished. We didn’t handle it very well today, the game showed just what our weaknesses are. We made a mistake for the first goal and there was a lot of nervousness then.

“We had an opportunity with the penalty and that would have given us a great lift, we didn’t get it. I’ve always said over 46 games you finish up where you deserve to end up. We ended up outside the play-offs because we deserved that.”

The visitors stunned the iPro into silence after just two minutes when Kwesi Appiah, making only his second Royals appearance since joining on loan from Crystal Palace, kept his cool to capitalise on Will Hughes’ mistake.

The Derby midfielder, who had picked up the club’s Player of the Season award minutes earlier, left a back pass to Raul Albentosa woefully short. Appiah nicked it away from the Spanish defender and drove into the box. He evaded Richard Keogh’s lunge and calmly placed the ball past Lee Grant at the near post.

Derby dominated the rest of the half but ran into a Reading side that showed some surprising resolve following a poor run. They also ran into Adam Federici who was in superb form.

The Australian ‘keeper pushed Tom Ince’s free-kick round the post after 11 minutes and was at full stretch to keep out Darren Bent’s 25-yard effort just before the half hour.

The best save of the lot came on the stroke of half time after Jordan Obita had dragged down Johnny Russell in the box. Bent put his spot kick low towards the corner but Federici guessed correctly and beat his shot away.

Reading had chances of their own, Grant made a fingertip save from Oliver Norwood’s free-kick after Albentosa had fouled substitute Tarique Fosu.

And in the second half, Fosu stretched Grant again and from the resulting corner Reading doubled their lead. The home side failed to clear the ball and Royals defender Michael Hector stabbed the ball home.

Derby manager Steve McClaren reacts to conceding a goal (Getty Images)

And Derby were finally put out of their misery when Grant was adjudged to have fouled Jem Karacan in the area and McCleary thumped home an emphatic penalty.

Reading manager Steve Clarke said: “We controlled the key moments of the game and that’s what the players need to learn and take into next season.”

Line-ups:

Derby County: (4-3-3) Grant; Shotton, Keogh, Albentosa (Ward, 73), Forsyth; Hughes, Warnock (Lingard, 33), Hendrick; Ince, Bent, Russell (Martin, 46).

Reading: (4-4-1-1) Federici; Gunter, Pearce, Hector, Obita; McCleary, Cholabah, Norwood (Cooper, 90); Stacey (Fosu, 30); Karacan (Williams, 86); Appiah,

Referee: James Linington

Man of the match: Federici (Reading)

Match rating: 7/10

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