England and Chelsea great Frank Lampard experienced a successful first foray into management as Derby County came back from behind to earn a last-gasp, 2-1 triumph at Reading in the Championship’s opening night.
Lampard, 40, became the all-time leading goalscorer for the Blues during 13 trophy-laden years from 2001-14 and also won 106 caps for his country. Great expectations now surround his career in the dugout, where he’s taken over an expectant club looking to go further after they were beaten in the semi-finals of last season’s play-offs under Gary Rowett.
Watched on by uncle Harry Redknapp, one of British football’s most-iconic managers, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson put the hosts deservedly ahead on 52 minutes. But as an increasingly-animated Lampard moved onto the touchline to dictate proceedings, goals from highly-rated Mason Mount and Tom Lawrence followed.
Goals – 2
Attempts – 11
Attempts on target – 3
Possession – 64%
Tackles – 14
In Friday’s dramatic first match of the 2018/19 Championship campaign, Derby put in a poor opening period showing before Reading went ahead soon after the break when Bodvarsson nodded powerfully home.
The Iceland centre forward climbed high to head past ex-England goalkeeper Scott Carson from Modou Barrow’s centre.
Derby drew level on the hour – with their first shot on target – when debutant Mount drilled in from long distance. This goal owed much to fortune, with former Arsenal shot stopper Vito Mannone putting flimsy fingertips to the low drive.
Derby were now in the ascendancy. They looked to press home their advantage against opponents who limped home 20th last term, plus failed to win all six preceding friendlies.
And Lawrence nodded in the winner deep into stoppage time from substitute Mason Bennett’s cross, just as the game looked to be petering out to a draw, sparking wild celebrations in the away dug-out.
TACTICAL TALKING POINT
Patient possession with a winning finale
Lampard has been effusive in his praise of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola during his time as a pundit and Derby’s mastery of the ball at Madejski Stadium fitted into this viewpoint.
Set-up in a 4-3-3 formation that entrusted promising Chelsea loanee Mason Mount, 18, with controlling the tempo, the Rams ended the match with 64-per-cent possession.
Impressively, their tally of 11 attempts on goal was four more than the hosts.
Whenever the visitors got the ball, they looked to utilise the penetration on the wings of Liverpool-owned Harry Wilson and late match-winner Lawrence.
This was a game plan that can gain even greater success with refinement, as Derby were second best during the early running.
Mount’s pass accuracy of 64.7 per cent should improve with exposure to British first-team football. He’ll get a guiding hand from Wales veteran Joe Ledley and Scotland’s Craig Bryson.
This was an almost-perfect competitive start to management for Lampard.
A clear vision was apparent from his charges, the defence weathered an early storm from Reading, the Chelsea connection came good through goalscorer Mount and morale will now shoot through the roof after Wales wide man Lawrence’s superb 94th-minute header.
Furthermore, Lampard will have been hugely impressed by the fact Reading were restricted to just two attempts on goal in the second half while his rebounding side had eight. Significant character was also required to not sink after Bodvarsson’s deserved opener.
Striker David Nugent had a header correctly ruled out for offside, but his lack of dynamism stunted several promising moments. Prolific summer signing Jack Marriott should improve this.
A perfect four wins from four games in pre-season included the scalp of Southampton. Whisper it quietly, but hope will be growing that the fixture will be a Premier League one in 2019/20.