Date:Saturday August 2 2008
Pride Park, Derby
Attendance: 9, 645
The last friendly before the season starts for real brought Derby up against the team who finished 10th in the Dutch Eredivisie, FC Utrecht, in an entertaining game that finished with honours even on a hot afternoon at Pride Park. A new inclusion for the match was Andrey Pereplotkin, a 23 year old Latvian international on trial from Skonto FC, who showed some nice touches and on this outing seems worth another look. FC Utrecht wore what appeared to be their training kit, without numbers or names on their backs, presumably due to a clash with their diagonally halved red and white kit.
The game started at a quick tempo with both sides showing some neat touches. Commons, looking lively down the left put in a nice cross for Hulse who just headed over from the angle before Utrecht took the lead through Leroy George after 15 minutes. A swift counter attack seemed to have been thwarted when McEveley got back to make a challenge but a neat cut back found George in space in the box who scored with a neat finish with Carroll stranded. The lead was short lived however with McEveleys' storming run down the left three minutes later producing a whipped cross into the box and a quality header from Commons that levelled the match. The early signs for Commons look positive and he showed some neat touches and the spark that was sadly lacking going forward last season.
Commons and Pereplotkin switched flanks and Commons again threatened cutting in from the right and hitting a firm drive that de Ruiter in the Utrecht goal did well to hold. Pereplotkin then pressured the full back, Schaken, and won the ball from him in the box before being hauled down winning Derby a penalty in the 37th minute. After protests from the Utrecht players Nathan Ellington placed the ball on the spot and calmly sent the keeper the wrong way to give Derby the lead. Albrechtsen then came close with a header from a Pereplotkin corner as Derby upped the pressure but were unable to breach the Utrecht defence again before half time.
Utrecht had played the ball around well and showed some neat touches without really threatening in the first half but that almost changed shortly after the break with Carroll called into action to save a van Dijk free kick. George then blazed over on the volley from eight yards from a looping cross and Utrecht earned themselves a penalty in the 60th minute when McEveley was harshly adjudged to have clipped George when tackling from behind in the box although there was no great protest from the Rams players. Van Dijk stepped up and hit a tame penalty that Carroll will probably be disappointed he didn`t do better with to again level the score.
The substitutions came thick and fast with Leacock, Davies and Villa coming on for Derby, Leacock again being deployed in a defensive midfield role. Utrecht themselves made six substitutions and the overall flow of the game became disjointed with neither side able to carve out any real chances. Connolly, Stewart and Addison soon followed as Paul Jewell changed things around at the back but the Rams still looked fairly comfortable. A late period of pressure nearly brought a winner as Commons beat his man and hung up a cross but Villa couldn`t get enough behind it and game finished all square.
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Date:Saturday August 2 2008
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