Cup Run Continues
Attendance: 11, 316
Jay McEveley`s late thunderbolt from the edge of the area put Derby County into the fifth round of the FA Cup for the second year in a row after an uninspiring afternoon at Pride Park. The Rams did just about enough to win with both sides lacking a cutting edge up front although the majority of efforts where from the home side. In a game that always looked likely to be decided by a single goal it was substitute McEveley who settled the tie after Stephen Pearson`s effort was blocked on the edge of the area wide to the left and the fullback ran onto the ball and let fly with his left foot with the ball clipping the inside of the post before finding the top corner of the net. With only two minutes to play Doncaster couldn`t find a way back into the match despite Stephen Bywater`s miss hit clearance falling to Lewis Guy but the striker scuffed his effort and Nigel Clough`s men go into the hat for the draw for the fifth round on Sunday evening.
Chris Porter was recalled to the side in the only change from the fine away victory at Peterborough last week with DJ Campbell not eligible under the terms of his loan from Leicester City. There were also places for Rob Hulse, Russell Anderson and Ben Pringle amongst the substitutes for Derby alongside Jay McEveley. Derby began the game brightly and won two early corners which were dealt with by the Doncaster defence and Steve Davies looked to have the first chance of the match when a slip by James O`Connor allowed the youngster a run at goal but Jason Shackell got back to make a last ditch challenge as he was set to shoot.
Davies was involved again just passed the twenty minute mark but his effort from the edge of the area didn`t threaten Neil Sullivan in the visitor`s goal and Billy Sharp had Doncaster`s first effort of note on twenty-six minutes but his effort from the edge of the area was comfortably dealt with by Stephen Bywater. Both sides were looking industrious but the final ball was lacking with chances few and far between and Sullivan was off his line sharply to deny Stephen Pearson as he closed in on goal in the final action of the half with both sides rarely looking like troubling the scoring.
Mark Wilson had the first effort of the second period when he found room and let fly from outside the area but Stephen Bywater was equal to it making the save at full length and Steve Davies headed narrowly over at the other end from an inviting Nicky Hunt cross in a lively opening. Nigel Clough`s men were enjoying the lion`s share of possession but a string of corners was all they had to show for it with the decision making in the final third letting them down at times.
As Doncaster looked to assert themselves Billy Sharp was twice involved, firstly driving in an effort from range that Bywater gathered before being inches away from a Gareth Roberts cross moments later but the ball flashed across the goal and bounced to safety. A mistake at the back handed Derby a three on two break with Pearson, Green and Davies running at goal but Davies took the shot on himself from the edge of the area when he could`ve played either of his team-mates in and the ball flashed harmlessly wide of the target.
Jake Buxton made a superb challenge as James Coppinger lined up a volley from ten yards but the defender got back and timed his tackle to perfection to knock the ball behind for a corner. Kris Commons came off the bench to try and give The Rams the creativity they were lacking with twenty five minutes to go in place of Steve Davies and Rob Hulse quickly followed in place of Chris Porter who was looking tired after continuing his return from injury.
A ball into the area from Stephen Pearson caused panic in the visitor`s defence and Commons had shouts for a penalty as he turned and was caught by a challenge in the area although he got his shot away only to be denied by Sullivan who then got himself up to deny Pearson as he crashed in a volley from the loose ball. However, the former Scotland international was beaten with two minutes on the clock and it was Jay McEveley, on as a late replacement for Dean Moxey, who was the surprise scorer. The Derby man followed up a blocked effort from Pearson to rifle a shot into the top right hand corner of the net from wide on the left edge of the penalty area and Sullivan didn`t move as the ball crashed past him and into the net off of the inside of the far post.
Four minutes of added time were signalled and Doncaster looked to step up their game but just couldn`t find a way back into the match with Jake Buxton and Shaun Barker standing firm in the centre of Derby`s backline. Their only site of goal came when Stephen Bywater miscued an attempted clearance straight to the feet of substitute Lewis Guy but the Doncaster man scuffed his shot and the ball trickled harmlessly back to the feet of the keeper and The Rams claimed their place in the next round.