Attendance: 18, 430
A scrapping performance from Derby nearly put them back on the winning path at the Richoh Arena and despite some controversy about a decision made in the build up to the equaliser in the last seconds of the match it can't be denied that Coventry deserved something from this encounter. A scrappy first half saw Derby take the lead from nowhere when a Commons cross was finished in style by Rob Hulse and it looked as though The Rams had survived the Sky Blues second half onslaught as they hit back on the break in the final fifteen minutes only to be denied victory in the dieing moments when Michael Mifsud set up Clinton Morrison to stab home from eight yards to earn his side a point that looked to be slipping away.
Derby made changes to their starting line-up with Lewin Nyatanga coming in for Claude Davies and Mile Sterjovski replacing Nacer Barazite, Paul Green was ruled out on the morning of the match with a kneck injury allowing Przemyslaw Kazmierczak to return to the starting line-up. Michael Doyle had the first meaningful effort of the game but his shot was gathered by Bywater without troubling The Rams keeper and Kris Commons at the other end was causing concern with some inviting crosses without a Derby player getting on the end of them. Another ball into the box from Commons was nodded back by Kazmierczak into Ellingtons path and the striker took a touch before firing in a shot that was well saved by Westwood in the home goal and Sterjovski put the rebound across the face of goal.
Freddie Eastwood dropped deep to collect the ball in the seventeenth minute and ran at the Derby defence before forcing Bywater into a save low to his right with a fiercely struck effort. Miles Addison then went close at the other end as Ward failed to clear his lines fully and the Derby man took a touch and fired in a volley that had Westwood scrambling to gather. The Derby youngster was involved again ten minutes before the break when he caught Beauzelin when clearing his lines and was booked by the referee for his efforts.
Commons was still looking dangerous down the left and he set up the games opening goal on fourty minutes, with space to attack down the flank he instead fired over an early cross that was met by Rob Hulse and his glancing header looped over Westwood and into the net to give his side the lead. Coventry nearly struck back within ninety seconds when a long ball to the edge of the box found Mifsud and he made room for himself before hitting the inside of the post with Bywater beaten and Ward then came close with a header from a corner but the Sky Blues couldn't find an equaliser before half-time.
Coventry opened the second half where they left off and Bywater had to be alert to gather a deflected Mifsud effort moments into the second period and Eastwood fired narrowly over after a fine solo run after fifty five minutes as the home side kept up the pressure. Derby were looking to hit them on the break and Ellington had an effort held at the second attempt by Westwood with Hulse ready to pounce if the keeper couldn't gather. Leon Best managed to completely miss the ball when well placed for a shot but he recovered to gather the ball and fired straight at Bywater.
Paul Jewell made the first change of the match on the hour mark bringing on Gary Teale for a rare appearance in place of the tiring Sterjovski and his side nearly doubled their lead when Ellington cleverly crossed only for Addison to be denied by Westwood with the Derby youngster starting to wonder what he needs to do to open his goalscoring account. Coventry brought on Clinton Morrison in place of Doyle and good work by the striker lead to a chance for Gunnarsson who could only fire over the top.
The substitutions kept on coming with Ellington making way for Tito Villa and Dean Leacock being forced off with a calf problem and being replaced by Claude Davies. Gunnarsson then forced Bywater into a sharp save as Coventry continued to search for the equaliser and their attacking efforts almost led to being caught on the break but with a three on two developing Commons went for the early effort and saw his shot blocked with Hulse and Teale well placed.
Simpson again brought the best out of Bywater with a thumping free kick from the edge of the box and the pressure eventually told when City equalised seconds before the ninety minutes were up. What seemed a clear Derby throw on the halfway line was given in Coventry's favour and the home side took advantage of The Rams protests to break quickly and good work from Michael Mifsud saw the Maltese stiker cut in from the right and fire in a low cross that was stabbed home by Clinton Morrison to even the game up. Coventry were well on top and they were the only side in it in injury time but they couldn't snatch another goal to force the win and despite the protests in the build-up to the equaliser there can be no arguing that Coventry deserved a point from this game.
Stephen Bywater 8
Paul Connolly 7
Jordan Stewart 7
Lewin Nyatanga 7
Dean Leacock 7
Mile Sterjovski 6
Miles Addison 6
Przemyslaw Kazmierczak 6
Kris Commons 8
Rob Hulse 7
Nathan Ellington 7
Gary Teale 6
Tito Villa 6
Claude Davies 6
Win FREE pizza with Vital Football!
Select your team and get 50% off if they score twice.