Rams Hold Leaders
St James' Park
Attendance: 47, 505
A resolute defensive display from The Rams saw them become only the third side to leave St James` Park with a point after they held on for a 0-0 draw against league leaders Newcastle United. Point blank saves from Stephen Bywater and Steve Harper kept the game scoreless and whilst most of the pressure came from the home side clear cut chances were few and far between. The late sending off of Jay McEveley didn`t make a difference and a heroic display from the recalled Miles Addison gave Derby the platform to build on to claim a point on the road.
Nigel Clough made five changes to the side he put out on Boxing Day, Jay McEveley moved to leftback in place of the suspended Dean Moxey with Miles Addison brought in to partner Jake Buxton in the middle of the backline. Chris Porter missed out through injury with DJ Campbell taking his place up front alongside Rob Hulse who came in for Paul Dickov. Gary Teale and Lee Croft dropped to the bench to be replaced by Paul Green and Lee Hendrie.
DJ Campbell had the first effort of the match within the opening minute but scuffed his shot and Newcastle soon went down to the other end of the pitch but Andy Carroll couldn`t get his header on target as it bounced wide. Peter Lovenkrands then threatened with a run through the middle but Miles Addison got his foot in with the ball spinning a couple of yards wide of the target for a corner.
A harshly awarded free kick on the edge of the area on eleven minutes saw Ryan Taylor curl his effort against the top of the bar and Andy Carroll got his head to a Luis Enrique cross but again couldn`t get direction on his header as it drifted wide. Derby were looking composed on the ball and built well when in possession but the final ball let them down at times when in dangerous areas.
Jonas Gutierez broke forward down the left and put in a low cross that Peter Lovenkrands took a touch from but dragged his final effort wide of the far post after a neat bit of skill. Miles Addison powered forward from the back but his low cross was gathered by Steve Harper as The Rams` broke dangerously again. At the other end Ryan Taylor was played in behind the Derby backline but Bywater saved with his outstretched leg to deny the midfielder.
Rob Hulse got his head to a dangerous free kick to make a superb defensive clearance and he was involved moments later to block a shot six yards from goal as Newcastle threatened again. Another dangerous Derby break saw the ball reach Stephen Pearson on the left and a surging run saw him cut the ball back from the touchline to find DJ Campbell but Steve Harper denied him at pointblank range with a superb reaction stop.
Ian Nolan looked to have the last chance of the first half when his diagonal run saw him escape the attentions of Jake Buxton but the defender got back well to block the effort behind for a corner which came to nothing and the sides went in at the interval goalless.
Derby broke forward at the start of the second half but Robbie Savage sliced a shot wide of the mark when teed-up by Lee Hendrie on the edge of the area and The Rams were having more of the game with Newcastle`s attacks being broken down before they reached the Derby area.
Steven Taylor should have given the home side the lead when a clipped ball from Andy Carroll found him unmarked eight yards out but he headed straight at Stephen Bywater on the hour mark. Derby were keeping hold of the ball well but the final ball into the area still let them down with Steve Harper not being called into any serious action.
Kris Commons made his comeback with twenty minutes to go in place of Lee Hendrie on the left of midfield and it wasn`t long until he was involved although his run and shot from twenty yards didn`t unduly trouble Harper. Newcastle stepped up the pressure as the game reached the final fifteen minutes but The Rams defence were standing firm with Miles Addison in particular getting his head to a number of long balls and clearing his lines when required.
Robbie Savage fired a shot wide from just outside the area and Stephen Bywater was called into action at the other end to deny Shola Ameobi when he looked to have given the home side the lead. A deep cross from Ian Nolan found Ameobi at the far post and his volley seemed to have opened the scoring but Bywater somehow tipped the effort up onto the bar and the ball bounced on the line before the keeper collected and cleared to safety.
Robbie Savage curled a dangerous looking free kick over from the edge of the area in the closing minutes and Jay McEveley received a second yellow card for bringing down Gutierez in injury time but it couldn`t derail a superb defensive effort from Nigel Clough`s men as they claimed a share of the spoils with their third consecutive away clean sheet.