Frank Lampard made a winning start in football management as his Derby side dramatically snatched victory at Reading.
Tom Lawrence’s exquisite header in the dying seconds of injury time saw them come from behind in the second half.
Jon Dadi Bodvarsson had headed Reading into a second-half lead from Mo Barrow’s cross moments after David Nugent saw his effort at the other end disallowed for offside.
Mason Mount drew Derby level within eight minutes as his drilled left-shot was too much for Vito Mannone to keep out and it looked set to end that way until Lawrence’s late intervention.
Mannone thought he had made amends late on to secure Reading a point as he palmed away a Harry Wilson half-volley from close range.
But, the former Arsenal and Sunderland keeper could do nothing to prevent Wales winger Lawrence grabbing all three points for Derby with almost the final touch.
Mason Bennett’s searching cross from the right was met on the run by Lawrence, who found the top-left corner with precision.
Derby’s travelling support of almost 2,000 were sent into raptures and Lampard had three points to put on his managerial CV from his first competitive fixture.
Energetic start to new Championship season
On a balmy summer’s evening in Berkshire, the energy-sapping heat of the day did little to quell the tempo of the opening action of the English Football League season.
Reading, who avoided relegation to League One with a goalless draw at promoted Cardiff on the final day of last season, belied their poor pre-season form with a bright start that should have seen them lead at the break.
Derby, who lost in the play-off semi-finals to eventual winners Fulham in May, took time to find their feet and arguably rode their luck.
Rams grow into Lampard’s game plan
Much of Derby’s play in the first half was characterised by ponderous and at times over-elaborate possession as at one stage the Rams saw 74% of the ball.
There was little to show for it in terms of chances in the final third with Mannone enjoying a quiet first 45 minutes in the Reading goal.
It was the hosts who should have punished an error-strewn opening 20 minutes with Richard Keogh twice caught out on the ball, but on both occasions Bodvarsson failed to beat Scott Carson.
Firstly, he was fast off his line to block with his legs on the edge of the penalty area and then had ample time to catch a tame shot from the Iceland forward.
Liam Kelly showed more conviction towards the break when he forced the former England international to palm a shot behind for a corner at his near post.
But, while Derby were perhaps lacking conviction in the first half, their approach to going behind was full of endeavour.
Chelsea loanee and former England Under-19 captain Mount pushed on in midfield to draw them level and later combined positively with Liverpool loanee Wilson to force Reading back.
The Rams kept going during scrappy closing stages and Lawrence’s header was met with great delight by Lampard and his assistant Jody Morris in the visiting dugout.
More to follow.