Rooney’s Rams refuse to give up, gain draw
Derby’s improbable survival bid has continued with the Championship’s bottom club snatching a last-gasp draw at Reading due to a pair of late goals.
Their manager Wayne Rooney missed the game. He had felt unwell with cold symptoms so remained at home despite a Covid test proving negative.
But he will have been cheered by the spirit his team showed.
Roared on by fans singing ‘We’re Derby County, we’ll fight to the end’, they scored in the 86th and 91st minutes having long trailed to a brace from Junior Hoilett.
Derby have been deducted 21 points for entering administration and financial breaches. That left them on 10 points before kick-off, 11 behind a Reading team occupying the last place of safety.
Reading had won only twice in their 10 previous matches and had not played since December 11 due to widespread COVID-19 issues in their camp.
But they showed little sign of ring-rust, especially Hoilett. The Canadian international struck after 37 minutes, curling in from range, and 56, following up at a corner.
That appeared to have earned Reading a vital win in their own relegation struggle.
But substitute Colin Kazim-Richards took advantage of home keeper Luke Southwood’s error to halve the deficit.
Then veteran defender Curtis Davies headed powerfully in from a Nathan Byrne cross.
“This sums up the spirit and character of our group,” said assistant manager Liam Rosenior, adding, “I’m proud.”
However, County remain 11 points from safety and have played more games the the eight clubs immediately above them.
Elsewhere in the Championship mid-table Preston won 2-1 at play-off contenders Stoke.
Goals from Brad Potts and Andrew Hughes secured victory after Ben Wilmot’s 30-yard strike had put the home team ahead.
The other three Championship matches, including leaders Bournemouth’s hosting of Peterborough, were postponed due to COVID-19.