Off the mark
Attendance: 33, 010
A late Gary Teale strike gave Nigel Clough`s Derby side all three points in an entertaining opening day encounter at Pride Park. After scoring early The Rams dominated for large periods of the first half and despite Peterborough enjoying more possession in the second half they failed to carve out clear cut chances until a rush of blood from Stephen Bywater handed the equaliser to the visitor`s on a plate. Despite this Derby kept playing and a Kris Commons corner caused chaos in the area before Teale poked home from close range for a deserved three points even if it was somewhat fortunate in the way it came about.
Three of Nigel Clough`s summer signings made their debuts in the side with Dean Moxey lining up at left back, Jake Buxton partnering Miles Addison in the centre of defence and Lee Croft taking up a role on the right of a five man midfield with Steve Davies the lone man up front. Peterborough welcomed back Craig Mackail-Smith after some doubts he would be fit and he lined up alongside last season`s leading scorer Aaron MacLean.
The Rams started strongly, keeping possession in midfield and breaking dangerously and it was not long before they took the lead. A run from Lee Croft won a corner which he took himself, the ball broke to Gary Teale on the far side of the area and he laid it back for Paul Green to sweep a cross into the area. Jake Buxton rose well to head back across and Miles Addison flung himself full length to head in from within the six yard box to give his side the lead on four minutes.
Croft and Teale were making inroads down the flanks Clough`s side as they continued on the front foot and another corner caused panic in the visitor`s area before being hacked to safety. Another cross from the left by Teale found Steve Davies but his header went over the top without really troubling Joe Lewis in Peterborough`s goal but the midfield trio of Savage, Pearson and Green were well on top in midfield and dominating the game.
Paul Connolly broke dangerously down the right only for his pull back to be whipped off the toe of Stephen Pearson as he looked set to pounce as Derby looked to double their lead. A change in formation from Ferguson, matching the five men across the middle, was giving the visitor`s more of the ball and saw them slowly claw their way back into the game. A close range effort from George Boyd was correctly ruled out for offside with his sides first real shot of the game and Gary Teale was next to threaten with a mazy run from near the halfway line ending with a poked effort across the goal from inside the area that went narrowly wide with Davies closing in to get the final touch.
United where slowly having more possession and won two quick free kicks in dangerous positions wide on the right but both were dealt with easily by the home defence and Aaron MacLean had his first site of goal when a low cross found him with space inside the box but his left footed effort was well wide of the mark.
The Rams finished the half strongly with Green and Croft combining to win a corner but the delivery did not match the build-up and another late corner found Buxton but his header goalwards was comfortably held by Lewis and they went in at the break with a deserved lead on a hot afternoon at Pride Park.
Kris Commons came on to replace Paul Green at the break with the later suffering from a bruised foot that he had been carrying into the game. Gary Teale was caught in problems again early in the second period but was unable to pick out a Derby man with his ball into the area and Savage was also involved but his lofted effort didn`t trouble Lewis. Commons then showed great vision feeding Teale down the left and he broke into the area in yards of space but his pullback was cleared from in front of Davies who looked ready to roll the ball into an unguarded net.
Commons himself then threw over a great cross from the left that was just flicked to safety and another run from Teale saw him cut inside before lining up a shot from the edge of the area but he pulled it comfortably wide of the near post. The first change for United came with Lee Frecklington replacing Dean Keates just before the hour mark and Paul Coutts made room for himself just outside the area but his shot flew harmlessly wide of the mark.
Jake Buxton saw the first booking of the afternoon for the home side when clipping the heels of Mackail-Smith as he broke on the halfway line and another change for the visitors found Sean Batt replacing Tommy Rowe on 62 minutes. Pearson found space in the area from a Croft pass but he rather rushed his effort and only found the side netting from close in and maybe should have done better with the effort.
Peterborough were starting to look more dangerous on the break and only a superb last ditch tackle from Dean Moxey denied Mackail-Smith as he found himself free in the area and Stephen Bywater then had to be alert to rush off his line to deny another break into the area at the expense of a corner. Kris Commons then broke into the area as Derby again threatened only to be hauled down by Zakuani with the referee amazingly not awarding the spot kick for what looked more like a rugby tackle. Ben Pringle came on for Lee Croft, feeling the knock to his knee he picked up in pre-season, with 79 minutes showing on the clock and he was immediately into the action with two bustling runs taking him passed his man wide on the left but both crosses just failed to pick out a Derby man.
Just as time looked to be running out for Peterborough after a much improved second half showing a rush of blood to the head by Stephen Bywater presented them with a route back into the match. A ball in behind Connolly saw the fullback turn and although Batt looked to be beating him to the pass he was heading away from goal but Bywater came charging out and upended the striker in the corner of the box. The referee had no option but to award the spot kick and George Boyd coolly sent the keeper the wrong way to stroke home the equaliser in front of the jubilant visiting fans.
The parity did not last for long though as The Rams picked up their game and duly went back in front three minutes later. A Commons corner saw Lewis hopelessly misjudge the cross only for a header to be cleared off the line, as the ball was returned into the area and knocked across the goal Gary Teale pounced to poke home from inside the six yard box to out his side back in front.
Jay McEveley came on for Steve Davies with two minutes remaining and Kris Commons should have sealed the win when he broke clear only for Lewis to save with his legs as the second goal seemed to have knocked the stuffing out of the visitors. They rallied to apply some late pressure in injury time but didn`t threaten Bywater`s goal and The Rams claimed their first victory on the opening day in seven years to get the new campaign off to a great start.