The Late Show
Attendance: 33, 010
A late Paul Connolly header snatched a point for his side just as they looked to have missed out against promotion chasing Burnley at Pride Park. A solid looking performance saw them on top for the first half only for a mix-up in the area to hand the visitor`s the lead and they gained in confidence and kept hold of the ball without every threatening Bywater in the home goal. Just as time looked to have run out a deep Gary Teale cross found Paul Connolly in yards of space at the back post and his diving header from inside the six-yard box levelled things up for a dramatic but deserved.
Kris Commons and Jay McEveley returned to the side after recent injuries and there was a surprise start for Stephen Pearson in the centre of midfield with Barry Bannan getting his first start on the right of midfield. The on loan Villa youngster was involved straight away and nearly played in Stephen Pearson but Steven Caldwell intercepted well to snuff out the danger. Gary Teale then cut inside from the left and hit a low shot with his right foot that Brian Jensen scrambled around the post.
Burnley then threatened at the other end from a couple of set-pieces when Clark Carlisle looped a header against the bar and when the ball wasn`t fully cleared Rhys Williams powered in a shot that Stephen Bywater turned over. Graham Alexander then had a shot deflected wide from another dead ball and Chris Eagles couldn`t find the target with another effort. Gary Teale then threatened at the other end when a quick free-kick found him on the left and he again cut inside before unleashing a firm effort that Jensen tipped over.
Kris Commons was becoming more of an influence in his role just off Rob Hulse and his interchange with Bannan saw a low cross find Rob Hulse and his effort was blocked at close range again by Jensen. Martin Paterson then received the first booking of the match for a terrible challenge on Paul Connolly but the Derby captain got straight back up which possibly saved The Clarets` striker from a worse fate.
Both sides were playing some good football and Kris Commons went down under a Graham Alexander challenge but the referee waived play-on. Another quick free-kick saw Robbie Savage chip the ball across the area and Rob Hulse was again denied at close range by Jensen who stuck out a leg to deny the Derby man. Wade Elliott then fired over from the edge of the box with the last real opportunity of the half and Derby had defended well when the visitors` broke forward.
The Rams started quickly at the start of the second half and a couple of dangerous looking crosses couldn`t pick out Derby men as they flew across the area. Burnley took a surprise lead just before the hour mark when a deflected cross bounced around the area and Bywater and Albrechtsen collided allowing Chris McCann to roll into an empty net from a couple of yards out. Derby got back on top almost straight away but Gary Teale fired a cross high and wide from a good position.
Burnley threatened again when McCann met Blake`s corner but the ball hit Hulse and bounced away and Blake himself then turned on a bouncing ball and hit a volley that had Bywater scrambling as it hit the side netting.
The visitor`s were on top without threatening the home goal and the tiring Commons made way for Tito Villa with fifteen minutes to go. The Argentinean went up front alongside Hulse and was straight into the action when his pass nearly put Pearson in but Caldwell got his foot in the way to clear the ball to safety.
The Scottish international was then replaced by Przemyslaw Kazmierczak as the home side looked to get in the match but the visitor`s were using the ball wisely and keeping it in the corners to run down the clock as the board went up for three minutes of overtime. With thirty seconds remaining of the added time Derby found an equaliser that seemed not to be coming when Villa held the ball on the edge of the area and found Teale in space on the left and his cross across the area bypassed everyone and found Paul Connolly steaming in on the back post to dive and head in from a couple of yards out to rescue a point for his side. Burnley tried to step up their game to get back in front but there wasn`t enough time remaining and a draw was a fair outcome despite the dramatic circumstances for the equaliser.
Looked as though the break did him good with a strong performance in midfield, showed plenty of running and used the ball well to keep his side in possession.
Stephen Bywater 7
Paul Connolly 7
Jay McEveley 7
Lewin Nyatanga 7
Martin Albrechtsen 7
Gary Teale 7
Robbie Savage 8
Stephen Pearson 7
Barry Bannan 6
Kris Commons 6
Rob Hulse 7
Tito Villa 7
Przemyslaw Kazmierczak 6