Noel Hunt grabbed the only goal of a dour match at Pride Park to propel Reading into the play-off spots.

The Irishman's header from Jimmy Kebe's cross was his first goal since scoring against Ipswich on 26 November.

Derby's Theo Robinson and Paul Green tried their luck from long range but neither came close to dragging the hosts back to parity.

The three points carry the Royals up to sixth, while Derby end a run of three wins at home.

After a dire first half, Hunt fired two sighters from just outside the box after the break.

The striker found the net just after the hour as referee Geoff Eltringham waved away Derby forward Jamie Ward's appeals for a foul on the edge of the visitors' box, and a swift counter ended with Hunt powering a header past Frank Fielding.

Derby never looked likely to summon up an equaliser and toiled hard without creating any real chances to level.

Derby manager Nigel Clough:

"We didn't get going all night which has puzzled us somewhat because we played well on Saturday and have been good in training in the last two days.

"We absolutely fell flat tonight. We can't put our finger on it at the moment.

"We were playing against a very good side tonight but we didn't cause them enough problems and that's been as poor as we've been for some time."

Reading boss Brian McDermott:

"It was efficient and we needed a little bit of Jimmy Kebe to make the goal for us.

"Derby worked really hard on him tonight but we felt he has always got that bit of quality to make the difference and he's produced a good cross and Noel's got in a good header.

"Eight wins from 10 speaks for itself. We normally leave it until end of March or April so we are happy enough, this is the best position we have been in in the last couple of years."

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (4)

Derby

  • 01 Fielding
  • 03 Roberts Booked
  • 05 Barker Booked
  • 06 Shackell
  • 04 Bryson (S Davies - 46' )
  • 19 Carroll (Bailey - 78' )
  • 23 Hendrick
  • 32 Green
  • 09 Tyson
  • 10 Ward
  • 25 Ball (Robinson - 55' )

Substitutes

  • 13 Legzdins
  • 17 Buxton
  • 16 Bailey
  • 07 S Davies
  • 21 Robinson

Reading

  • 01 Federici
  • 03 Connolly Booked
  • 05 Pearce
  • 17 Gorkss
  • 23 Harte
  • 04 Karacan
  • 08 Leigertwood Booked
  • 14 Kebe
  • 19 Robson-Kanu (Mills - 82' )
  • 10 Hunt
  • 33 Roberts

Substitutes

  • 31 Andersen
  • 16 Mills
  • 07 Tabb
  • 09 Le Fondre
  • 18 Church
Ref: Eltringham
Att: 22,567

Match Stats

Shots

11 8

On target

7 5

Corners

3 8

Fouls

13 13

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +4:33 Full time

Full Time The referee blows his whistle to end the game.

90:00 +4:04

Unfair challenge on Jason Roberts by Jason Shackell results in a free kick. Noel Hunt restarts play with the free kick.

90:00 +3:21

Free kick awarded for a foul by Jamie Ward on Jimmy Kebe. Adam Federici takes the direct free kick.

90:00 +2:18

Unfair challenge on Jem Karacan by Theo Robinson results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Adam Federici.

90:00 +1:29

Centre by Jamie Ward, save by Adam Federici.

89:43

Jamie Ward sends in a cross, save by Adam Federici.

89:16

The offside flag is raised against Noel Hunt. Indirect free kick taken by Frank Fielding.

87:24

Jason Roberts concedes a free kick for a foul on Gareth Roberts. Frank Fielding takes the free kick.

85:45

Jamie Ward produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the goal.

85:25

Corner taken by Jamie Ward from the left by-line, clearance made by Alex Pearce.

84:30

Inswinging corner taken by Steve Davies from the right by-line played to the near post, Nathan Tyson takes a shot. Clearance by Alex Pearce.

82:33

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Ian Harte, clearance by Jason Shackell.

82:15

Jem Karacan takes a shot. Blocked by Shaun Barker.

81:30 Substitution

Substitution Joseph Mills replaces Hal Robson-Kanu.

80:04

Corner taken by Ian Harte from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Gareth Roberts.

77:24 Substitution

Substitution James Bailey replaces Tom Carroll.

77:24

Ian Harte takes the free kick.

77:24 Booking

Booking Caution for Shaun Barker.

77:15

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jason Roberts by Shaun Barker.

76:14

Shaun Barker gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Noel Hunt. Ian Harte delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing, clearance made by Paul Green.

74:55

Free kick awarded for a foul by Theo Robinson on Kaspars Gorkss. Direct free kick taken by Adam Federici.

70:44

A cross is delivered by Paul Green, Jamie Ward takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.

70:44 Booking

Booking The referee shows Mikele Leigertwood a yellow card.

70:29

Steve Davies fouled by Mikele Leigertwood, the ref awards a free kick.

69:55

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jason Roberts by Jason Shackell. Alex Pearce restarts play with the free kick.

69:26

Kaspars Gorkss concedes a free kick for a foul on Theo Robinson. Direct free kick taken by Paul Green.

68:47

Theo Robinson takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.

67:51

Mikele Leigertwood has a shot on goal from outside the box which misses right.

67:24

Alex Pearce takes the direct free kick.

67:24 Booking

Booking Gareth Roberts receives a caution.

67:14

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jason Roberts by Gareth Roberts.

66:54

Jamie Ward takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Alex Pearce.

65:13

Matthew Connolly concedes a free kick for a foul on Nathan Tyson. Steve Davies has an effort direct from the free kick, Kaspars Gorkss gets a block in.

62:56

Effort from long range by Paul Green goes wide right of the target.

62:00

Ian Harte takes the outswinging corner, Alex Pearce takes a shot. Save by Frank Fielding.

60:21

Assist by Jimmy Kebe.

60:21 Goal scored

Goal! - Noel Hunt - Derby 0 - 1 Reading Noel Hunt finds the net with a headed goal from close range. Derby 0-1 Reading.

57:36

Corner taken by Ian Harte from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Theo Robinson.

57:20

Ian Harte takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Jeff Hendrick.

56:52

Jem Karacan takes a shot. Jeff Hendrick makes a clearance.

56:06

Gareth Roberts gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jimmy Kebe. Direct free kick taken by Matthew Connolly.

55:27

Jason Roberts gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Paul Green. Frank Fielding takes the free kick.

54:18 Substitution

Substitution Theo Robinson on for Callum Ball.

53:51

Noel Hunt produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the goal.

52:19

Shaun Barker gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Noel Hunt. Ian Harte delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left channel, Jason Shackell makes a clearance.

51:21

Noel Hunt produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the target.

45:01

The game restarts for the second half.

45:01 Substitution

Substitution Craig Bryson leaves the field to be replaced by Steve Davies.

45:00 +1:10 Half time

Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.

43:52

Ian Harte produces a cross, Jason Shackell manages to make a clearance.

43:05

Jeff Hendrick takes a shot. Save made by Adam Federici.

41:22

Kaspars Gorkss is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by Frank Fielding.

40:37

Callum Ball concedes a free kick for a foul on Matthew Connolly. Matthew Connolly takes the direct free kick.

39:08

Noel Hunt takes a shot. Save made by Frank Fielding.

38:34

The offside flag is raised against Nathan Tyson. Adam Federici takes the indirect free kick.

36:10

Jamie Ward takes a shot and missed to the left of the net.

31:46

Header by Jamie Ward from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.

31:10

Free kick awarded for a foul by Mikele Leigertwood on Paul Green. Free kick taken by Paul Green.

27:52

Gareth Roberts fouled by Jimmy Kebe, the ref awards a free kick. Frank Fielding takes the indirect free kick.

27:08

Nathan Tyson takes a shot. Save made by Adam Federici.

26:42

Mikele Leigertwood challenges Tom Carroll unfairly and gives away a free kick. Craig Bryson restarts play with the free kick.

25:49

The referee blows for offside. Alex Pearce restarts play with the free kick.

24:56

Free kick awarded for a foul by Jason Roberts on Gareth Roberts. Frank Fielding restarts play with the free kick.

23:22

Centre by Hal Robson-Kanu.

22:31

Callum Ball takes a shot. Comfortable save by Adam Federici.

21:52

Unfair challenge on Jamie Ward by Mikele Leigertwood results in a free kick. Jamie Ward crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing, save made by Adam Federici.

20:22

Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Ian Harte played to the near post, Shaun Barker manages to make a clearance.

17:50

Noel Hunt fouled by Jason Shackell, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Ian Harte.

16:27

The ball is sent over by Gareth Roberts.

12:36

Ian Harte takes a outswinging corner to the near post, Nathan Tyson manages to make a clearance.

9:53 Booking

Booking Matthew Connolly receives a yellow card.

9:20

Matthew Connolly challenges Jamie Ward unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jamie Ward restarts play with the free kick.

8:48

Kaspars Gorkss fouled by Callum Ball, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Kaspars Gorkss.

7:25

Ian Harte takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Paul Green.

6:19

Paul Green crosses the ball, save by Adam Federici.

5:47

Ian Harte concedes a free kick for a foul on Callum Ball. Paul Green restarts play with the free kick.

4:37

Foul by Mikele Leigertwood on Craig Bryson, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Jeff Hendrick.

0:58

The assistant referee flags for offside against Noel Hunt. Free kick taken by Frank Fielding.

0:00

The match gets underway.

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