What a great Cup tie – for the neutral that is. Rams fans left feeling disappointed but by no means disheartened.
First of all, Steve McClaren made a whole host of changes for the tie. It was certainly a side that was capable, the nature of the squad means that ringing the changes doesn’t hugely weaken the team, perhaps apart from the outstanding and clear stand-out performer of the season Will Hughes.
Derby played some great stuff, especially early on and really should have took their chances. A threat from Reading still remained, however.
Stephen Warnock deserved his red card. Two late, clumsy challenges won him an early shower. There is an argument for him getting another chance but I think the recklessness warranted a sending off. It seemed stupid and proved costly, which is a shame because, prior to his sending off, he looked like a threat going forward and clearly has a great left foot. After the game he admirably held his hands up.
Would like to apologise to my team mates and all at Derby for my red card today…a player of my experience should know better.
— Stephen Warnock (@StephenWarnock3) February 14, 2015
With ten men, Derby still looked a threat and had most of the ball. Craig Forsyth came on to give the side a back four, although Forsyth was clearly instructed to act as a left winger at every chance.
It was good that Craig Bryson got a run out. Hendrick and Hughes have established themselves as first choice recently so it was the perfect chance for Bryso, who had a decent game alongside the also hard-working Jeff Hendrick.
Jesse Lingard had a good debut. The on-loan Man United youngster seems to be neat attacker and he has given McClaren a dilemma for Tuesday – who to play alongside Bent and Ince in attack?
Bent is a top ‘right place, right time’ striker at the moment with a record that almost equates to a goal a game for Derby. I don’t think he knew much about his goal yesterday!
Despite the Rams deserving at least a draw, Reading deserve the credit for taking the chance of a rare away win at Pride Park. The Royals looked lively going forward but I have to talk about their star substitute, Yakubu. The Yak was classy in everything he did – for his goal, his strength and finishing was clearly of a man of vast experience and he managed to frustrate the Derby defence when chasing the game. It was a blast from the past of Premiership years gone by, yet he is certainly not past it and will be a good signing for Reading.
It was a shame that, after all the hype over the past few days, George Thorne didn’t get on but there was never a right moment. Thorne will be back and I, for one, can’t wait to see his class back on the pitch.
It was a brilliant chance to get to Wembley, the FA Cup is as wide open as ever but it was not to be. I hope a Football League side can win it.
Back on to the league and a huge thumbs-up must go to Huddersfield, whose efforts got a draw at Bournemouth. Now it is over to Derby at Rotherham on Tuesday and then Middlesbrough at Birmingham on Wednesday.