Attendance: 22, 034
Derby County earned their place in the semi-finals of the League Cup for the first time since 1968 with a hard fought victory at the Britannia Stadium over Premiership Stoke City in a game both sides could have legitimate claims to have won. The Rams dominated for periods of the second half and came close on a number of occasions whilst at the other end Roy Carroll had to be on top form to keep his side level at times. Two vital refereeing decisions for once went in Derby`s favour as Stoke had a goal disallowed and a late penalty for handball against Andy Griffin gave Nathan Ellington the chance to put his side in the last four and he took the chance to calmly roll home the injury time spot kick to hand his side victory.
Nathan Ellington came in for the cup-tied Luke Varney in Derby`s only change whilst Stoke fielded former Rams in the form of Rory Delap, Danny Higginbotham and Andy Griffin. Stoke started the match well and very nearly went ahead within 90 seconds with Fuller escaping down the left and firing the ball across but Rory Delap couldn`t stretch far enough to score against his former side.
Derby forced a couple of early corners but Kazmierczak`s kicks weren`t up to his usual accurate standard and they drifted out harmlessly beyond the far post. Rory Delap had his famous long throw on the go soon after but it was dealt with competently by the Derby defence and the visitors were getting more possession without really threatening Simonsen in the Stoke goal.
The Ram`s defence dealt well with another couple of long throws and it took until nearly the half hour mark for the home side to have a serious effort on goal but Glenn Whelan`s shot was always heading wide from the moment it left his foot. Addison then brought a save out of Simonsen after Higginbotham was caught in possession but the teenager almost saw his side fall behind moments later. Darren Powell`s attempted clearance was charged down by Cresswell but the referee blew for a handball before the Stoke man had the ball in the net.
Kazmierczak hit a rasping effort with his right foot that went narrowly wide and at the other end Olofinjana had a powerful effort deflected over by Addison in the half`s last effort of note as Derby reached the interval all square in a fairly evenly matched first forty five minutes.
Ellington made good space for himself down the right as the second half got underway and his cross was met by the head of Kris Commons but the wingers effort hit the bar and Rob Hulse couldn`t force the rebound home under pressure and the ball ended wide of the post. Jordan Stewart was then called into action at the other end as a superbly timed tackle robbed Sidibe as the big striker look to move into The Rams area.
Paul Connolly slung over a dangerous looking cross only for Hulse to mistime his header as Derby looked to be edging the game but the home side should have been in front when Delap`s deep cross was put back into the area by Sidibe and Fuller managed to miss the target from seven yards. James Tomkins put in a couple of well timed tackles and at the other end Kris Commons fired in an effort that was deflected just over by Cort.
Darren Powell headed wide from a Derby corner and another Commons effort was deflected just wide as his side looked to get their noses in front but Stoke nearly caught The Rams out with a quick throw with Fuller this time setting up Sidibe who poked wide from six yards.
Another Kazmierczak corner caused problems in the Stoke area as Addison got his foot to the ball only for it strike the far post and bounce to safety. As the game swung back the other way Olofinjana won a header from a Whelan free-kick only for Carroll to deny the midfielder with a superb save and Tomkins slid in to clear as Fuller looked set to finish. The Rams keeper then made another top class save to deny Whelan who went for goal direct from a free-kick on the edge of the box.
Tito Villa came on for Rob Hulse with five minutes to go and he chased down a loose clearance before firing in a shot from the edge of the box that had Simonsen worried before going wide. As the game entered stoppage time a quick corner caught Stoke out and Kazmierczak`s cross was charged down by Griffin and as the ball bounced off the former Derby man`s arm the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Nathan Ellington to calmly roll the ball into the net and spark the celebrations in front of five thousand travelling fans as Derby claimed their place in the last four.
Calmness personified to put Derby through to the last four with his stoppage time penalty as he replaced new boy Varney in The Ram`s frontline.