Derby County 1 Reading 2 (Half-time 0-0)
Derby County were eliminated from the FA Cup at the fifth-round stage yesterday, after being reduced to ten men in the first-half against fellow Championship team Reading. It still required the advent of the veteran Nigerian striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni from the subs' bench though, before the Royals could claim their place in the next round, as 'The Yak' netted the deciding goal in a 2-1 win.
Neither side could be separated from each other in the first-half, which was devoid of any notable action until events took a turn for the worse for the home side, or at least for their defender Stephen Warnock. Already on a yellow card, he committed another offence that was deemed bookable by the referee when fouling Jamie Mackie and was given his marching orders on 39 minutes.
The visitors were able to capitalise on their numerical superiority on the pitch eight minutes after the interval, when Hal Robson-Kanu fired them in front with a curling effort.
County drew themselves level through another contribution from loanee Darren Bent, just after the hour mark, to set up a gripping final period to the game, with either side looking capable of snatching the victory. Bent has something of a Cup pedigree, as the goal ensured that he has now scored in seven successive ties.
Ex- West Brom manager and Chelsea number two, Steve Clarke decided to introduce the experienced Yakubu for Reading for the last twenty minutes, to see if he could provide the spark his team required, his decision paying off handsomely just eleven minutes after his appearance on the pitch. He was fed by Robson-Kanu and demonstrated something of the ability he had once demonstrated when plying his wares for Everton, by striking a powerful shot into the net.
Reading had only brought Yakubu into the side in the last month, after spells out of England in China and Qatar. He clearly felt that he had unfinished business and still has something to give to the game, with this priceless winner testament to that notion.
Derby can now focus on their promotion bid to the Premier League, lying just a point behind leaders Bournemouth in third place at present, while Reading will have the additional distraction of a Cup quarter-final, as they seek to avoid being dragged into the relegation battle at the other end of the table. #Football