Attendance: 25, 534
A tired looking performance from Derby allowed Preston North End to leave Pride Park with a point and it was only a number of excellent saves from Andy Lonergan in the visitors goal that prevented The Rams from taking all three points. A strange opener from Rob Hulse was followed up by a rash challenge in the box from Tito Villa and a poor backpass from Jordan Stewart to gift Preston a 2-1 lead before Stewart made amends and volleyed home a superb equaliser. The second half was virtually one way traffic for 25 minutes as Derby played at a higher tempo that the visitors couldn't match but they were unable to find another goal to put them back in front and despite having to defend a little more towards the end they were forced to settle for a point that kept their undefeated home run going.
Darren Powell came in for his first start since signing a short-term contract and Przemyslaw Kazmierczak replaced the injured Kris Commons in the only changes to the side beaten by Ipswich at the weekend. Preston started brightly and were enjoying more possession than the home side without threatening the Derby goal although a couple of crosses flashed across goal without any North End player managing to get a touch. The Rams took the lead in the sixth minute in slightly bizarre circumstances, Kazmierczak's free kick was only half cleared and Paul Green headed back into the area with a number of Derby players running back out as the Preston defence pushed up. As the ball dropped Rob Hulse was the only player on his way forwards and he got a toe to the ball to divert past Lonergan with the visitors appealing for offside.
Nacer Barazite went on a mazy run from the halfway line beating three defenders before just running out of room when he looked to cut the ball back and his side were almost made to pay moments later when Ross Wallace got the ball over from the left only for Mellor to blaze over from just in front of the penalty spot. Wallace was involved in the move that lead to the equaliser when he ran onto a ball in the Derby box only to go down under an untidy looking challenge from Tito Villa and the referee awarded the spot kick amongst protests from the Derby defence. Callum Davidson made no mistake from the spot smashing the penalty high past Carroll as the keeper went the wrong way.
Mellor again fired over as Preston looked to take the lead and Wallace was looking dangerous down the left but Derby nearly went back in front after a fine move with Kazmierczak spraying a pitch wide pass to Barazite who ran on and fed Hulse with the striker then playing the ball square in the box for the on-rushing Green but the midfielders effort clipped the outside of the post.
Jordan Stewart was then involved in a goal at either end as the scoring hotted up. In the 28th minute he took a ball across the back on his chest only to leave his backpass woefully short allowing Neil Mellor a clear run on goal and he finished well past Carroll to give his side the lead. However, the former Watford man made amends and scored with a superb volley from just outside the left hand side of the penalty area when a Kazmierczak throw was headed away in his direction.
Kazmierczak was having a major influence on the game and his free kick was met by Lewin Nyatanga but the young defender could only direct his header at Lonergan and the Preston man held on. Paul Green hit a low drive from 25 yards that flew narrowly wide on the stroke of halftime and the teams went in all square after an extraordinary half in terms of goal scoring.
Nathan Ellington replaced Tito Villa at halftime and he was involved straight away as Brown tangled with the Derby man and gave away a free kick 25 yards from goal. Up stepped Kazmierczak with a superb strike from the dead ball only for Lonergan to get his hand to the shot and touch it against the bar. Ellington came close moments later with a sharp shot from a tight angle only for Lonergan to turn the shot away again.
Rob Hulse fired over a cross from wide on the right that Ellington met just inside in the area but he couldn't get over the ball enough to direct on target and Nacer Barazite sliced a clearance in a rare Preston attack and Sedgwick might have done better but his header went over from a good position. Miles Addison then picked up a booking for a collision with Brown and could consider himself to be unlucky as no foot was raised in the challenge.
Preston were gradually forcing their way back into the game with Wallace again the danger man with his corner leading to Paul Connolly clearing off the line and Brown then heading goal wards from the clearance only for Carroll to tip over. Stewart got a good block on a Chris Brown shot and Wallace's delivery from the corner was quality again but McKenna couldn't get his header on target.
The game swung back in Derby's favour and Kazmierczak swung over another superb cross that was met by Rob Hulse but Lonergan again pulled out a top class save to deny the Derby man. The final five minutes lead to possession for both sides but no clear cut chances and the game ended all square with Derby perhaps a little disappointed not to have sealed the three points in the second half.
A major influence on the game from the left of midfield and created untold problems with his delivery from set pieces and long-throws. Played the ball around well and had by far his most effective game since arriving from Porto in the summer, will be looking to keep his place in the starting line-up on this form.
Roy Carroll 7
Paul Connolly 6
Jordan Stewart 7
Lewin Nyatanga 8
Darren Powell 6
Nacer Barazite 6
Miles Addison 6
Paul Green 6
Przemyslaw Kazmierczak 8
Rob Hulse 7
Tito Villa 6
Nathan Ellington 7