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Coventry City 1 - Derby County 1

Ricoh Arena

25/10/08 15.00

Attendance: 18, 430

All square

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.

Star Player

Keeping his place in the side with another quality performance and it'll be hard for Jewell to drop him in this form, pulled off a string of saves in the second half to keep his side ahead but it was one effort to many as Morrison struck the equaliser on ninety minutes.

Player Ratings

Stephen Bywater 8

Has responded superbly after bring brought back into the side after Carroll's red card and he hasn't let Jewell or the side down.

Paul Connolly 7

Another tough tackling performance from the captain and his consistancy at right back has been a bright spot during the run of form.

Jordan Stewart 7

Good, solid performance and got forward to good effect with some dangerous runs.

Lewin Nyatanga 7

Stood up well to the pressure in the second half and nearly helped his side to another away win.

Dean Leacock 7

Much improved from Tuesday night and will be hoping his calf injury has recovered in time for Norwich.

Mile Sterjovski 6

Worked hard down the right but appeared to tire after the break and was replaced by Teale.

Miles Addison 6

Picked up a booking and generally muscled his way around midfield, came close with two efforts and surely can't be long until he scores his first Derby goal.

Przemyslaw Kazmierczak 6

Looked a little rusty after his spell on the sidelines but showed some neat touches when in posession.

Kris Commons 8

Creativity down the left and his early cross set up Hulse for the opener, looks back to his sharpest after his injury.

Rob Hulse 7

Took his opportunity well with a superb header and he looks to be getting back to his best, the in form man in the Derby frontline.

Nathan Ellington 7

Has benefitted from his run in the side and his sharpness and touch are improving game by game.

Gary Teale 6

Rare appearance for the winger and looked to be lacking some sharpness.

Tito Villa 6

Didn't have enough of the ball to make an impact as Coventry were on top in the later stages.

Claude Davies 6

Filled the gap at the back when Leacock was replaced.

Manager Rating

Paul Jewell was understandably frustrated with the decision that lead to the equaliser but his side seem to have developed a knack for getting results from games and very nearly came home with three points from this one. Paul Green was missed in midfield and the Addison-Kazmierczak partnership seemed to be two players too similar in style to keep things moving in midfield when required, both players preferring to be the sitting midfielder in the centre of the park. Rob Hulse has hit form in the last few games and his goals are a bonus coupled with Commons return from injury.

The Journalist

Writer: MikeC Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday October 26 2008

Time: 3:39PM


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