Derby overcome Rooney absence to fight back in Reading draw

Illness - Derby manager Wayne Rooney

Illness - Derby manager Wayne Rooney Creator: ALEKSANDRA SZMIGIEL

Derby County continued their fight against Championship relegation by doing without ill manager Wayne Rooney in coming from 2-0 down to snatch a 2-2 draw with Reading on Monday.

The English second-tier match had been billed as the 'points deduction derby', with Reading docked six points for entering administration and basement club Derby stripped of 21 points in total for entering administration and breaching financial rules.

But Midlands club Derby are fighting hard against seemingly inevitable demotion to League One, with Monday's draw leaving them 11 points shy of Reading, who are just above the bottom three.

Former Manchester United and England striker Rooney missed the match, with Derby saying he was unwell but stressing their manager had provided a negative test for Covid-19.

Reading's Junior Hoilett curled home from distance in the 37th minute and was on target again 11 minutes after the break with a close-range effort.

But that was the cue for an impressive Derby fightback.

Rams substitute Colin Kazim-Richards pulled a goal back in the 86th minute before defender Curtis Davies equalised in added time.

Davies, asked if Derby could stay up, told Sky Sports: "With a squad like we've got where there's the older guard, plus some younger guys, it's really important for the likes of myself to keep everything on a level.

"We bounce to the next game trying to be better than we were before.

"We need to just take it game by game and try and get as many points as we can."

With several matches postponed by coronavirus outbreaks, Monday's other Championship fixture saw Preston come from behind to beat Stoke 2-1.

Defeat left the Potters five points off the play-off places, with only the top two at the end of the regular season guaranteed automatic promotion to the lucrative Premier League.

Mid-table Preston have now won two games out of two under new manager Ryan Lowe with Andrew Hughes sealing victory when the Welshman headed in six from time to score his first league goal in nearly three years.

Stoke, now with just one win in their last six games, went ahead thanks to defender Ben Wilmot's superb strike from 35 yards early in the second half. 

But Preston equalised in style thanks to Brad Potts' 59th-minute volley, with Stoke booed off the field by their own fans at full-time.

Bournemouth, whose game against Peterborough fell victim to Covid-19, remained three points clear at the top of the table.

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