Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Monday March 3 2008
Rams reach double figures
Derby County 0 Sunderland 0
The Rams may be heading towards the Championship but once again Pride Park was full to the rafters for the visit of Sunderland. A better defensive display by Paul Jewell`s side gave them a point in the 0-0 draw taking them to ten points for the season.
The Black Cats, who were without a win on the road this season, believed they had the lead on 38 minutes, when Andy Reid crossed low from the left for Michael Chopra to side foot past Derby keeper Roy Carroll but referee Mike Riley disallowed his effort.
Jewell made a number of changes to the side humiliated by Wigan last time out; midfielder Mile Sterjovski started his first game since his recent move from Genclerbirligi, while Eddie Lewis, Marc Edworthy David Jones and Emanuel Villa were all recalled.
Robbie Savage was rested, Giles Barnes and Dean Leacock were out injured and Craig Fagan and Hossam Ghaly dropped to the bench
It was an even opening with the first chance falling to the visitors; Daryl Murphy brought down Nyron Nosworthy's long clearance and crashed a curling shot against the post on four minutes.
But the Rams responded immediately, Kenny Miller`s turn and shot from the edge of the box flew just wide.
Both coaches urged their teams on from the technical area in an end-end encounter. The Rams looking dangerous until the final ball, while Murphy and Chopra flashed headers past the post. Then on 32 minutes Kieron Richardson failed to find the target from a free kick on the edge of the box.
On 38 minutes came the controversial decision by referee Mike Riley. The Rams defence were nowhere to be seen, as Reid crossed for Chopra to side foot past Carroll from 10-yards, but Riley blew for offside. It was a marginal decision but the Rams faithful breathed a sigh of relief.
There was another close call for the Rams three minutes later, Danny Higginbotham stretched to volley a cross into the box. Reid flicked it on and Alan Stubbs inadvertently back-heeled the ball inches past his own goal with Carroll well beaten.
Sunderland came out stronger after the break and carved out the opening chance. Former Rams target Kenwyne Jones was found in acres of space, but the big striker fired weakly straight at Carroll from just outside the box.
Jewell made a series of substitutions early in the second-half in an attempt to turn the tide, and they went close from a goalmouth scramble involving Marc Edworthy and Miller, the Rams striker firing wide.
Miller, who has been mentioned with a possible move to Rangers in the SPL at the end of the season, was lively all afternoon but lacked support up front. Maybe his strike partner Tito Villa should get to bed early Friday night, the striker was seen in the Coyote Wild bar in Derby at midnight the night before a game.
Miller fired over on the half-volley from outside the box on 80 minutes and Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon had to punch clear off his forehead from a deep cross.
Either side could have won it late as the game became more open in the final minutes and the Rams had substitute Ghaly it thank for the point, the Egyptian midfielder made a superb block to deny Higginbotham.
Derby: Carroll, Edworthy, Moore, Stubbs, McEveley, Sterjovski (Fagan 66), Jones (Ghaly 57), Pearson, Lewis, Miller (Earnshaw 80), Villa.
Subs Not Used: Price, Feilhaber.
Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, Nosworthy, Evans, Higginbotham, Chopra, Whitehead, Reid (Leadbitter 66), Richardson, Jones, Murphy (Stokes 80).
Subs Not Used: Fulop, McShane, Prica.
Referre: Mike Riley (Yorkshire)
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Date:Monday March 3 2008
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