Attendance: 21, 043
Birmingham City came from behind at Pride Park to win 2-1 and progress into the last eight of the FA Cup but they were a touch fortunate to snatch it after Liam Ridgewell`s winner from close range two minutes into injury time. The Rams put in another tireless performance and more than matched their opponents with Jay McEveley giving them the lead early in the second half. Scott Dann headed in a corner to level things up with just over a quarter of an hour to go and Ridgewell snatched the win when a replay looked likely when he turned in a Kevin Phillips shot that had hit the inside of the post and rolled along the line. Robbie Savage nearly snatched a draw with a dipping volley and despite being disappointed with the final result his side could be proud of pushing their visitor`s all the way.
Derby were unchanged for the third game in succession with the starting eleven from the victory over Newcastle intact, the only changes coming on the bench with Ben Pringle in for the cup tied David Martin and youth team player Ryan Connelly a surprise inclusion in place of the injured Gary Teale. The Rams came out on the front foot and looked to take the game to their Premiership opponents although they didn`t really test Joe Hart in the Birmingham goal despite the high tempo opening. Indeed it wasn`t until just before the half hour mark that the game saw its first effort with Lee Bowyer firing in a low effort from outside the area that didn`t trouble Stephen Bywater.
Bywater was called into action shortly afterwards to turn away Cameron Jerome`s effort from just inside the area after he was released by a pass from Seb Larsson and the resulting corner came to nothing as the game started to open up. Jay McEveley had an effort from long range but his shot was well wide of the mark as he looked to repeat his goal scoring heroics from the last round. Stephen Pearson then broke through down the left after an exchange of passes with Michael Tonge but Hart blocked the shot with his chest at the near post and the rebound was hacked to safety.
Kris Commons showed a neat piece of skill to beat his man on the right-hand edge of the area but his low cross evaded everyone in the six yard area and found touch on the far side. Derby were beginning to dominate the match and a whipped free kick into the area from wide on the left took a flick off of a Birmingham head and bounced just in front of Shaun Barker at the far post but Hart somehow kept his effort out and the ball was again scrambled to safety. It hadn`t been a half high in quality but The Rams had certainly matched their visitors as the sides went in level at the break.
Kris Commons was causing problems for the Birmingham backline and he was first to threaten at the start of the second period after a weaving run took him past two defenders before firing in a low shot that Joe Hart saved at his near post. The highly rated keeper was beaten only ten minutes in when Stephen Pearson found Jay McEveley on the left edge of the area and his effort bounced awkwardly in front of the keeper who could only help it into the corner of the net and he would have been disappointed not to have kept it out.
Kris Commons tried his luck again from outside of the area but Hart was equal to it this time with Paul Green set to pounce had he spilled the effort. Alex McLeish brought on Keith Fahey and Kevin Phillips in place of Larsson and Benitez just after the hour mark to change things up front and try and engineer a way back into the match for his side. Derby were still threatening at the other end though and Hulse whipped in a cross from the left that only just avoided an unmarked Commons in the middle.
Kevin Phillips was looking lively and Shaun Barker had to be on his toes as the striker broke into the area and a combination of him and Stephen Bywater kept the ball out of the net at the expense of a corner which came to nothing. The visitors did find an equaliser with a little over fifteen minutes to go however when Scott Dann rose highest to meet a James McFadden corner and his downward header hit Michael Tonge`s knee on the line before going in as the defender celebrated in front of his fans in the south stand.
The game was still very evenly matched and Craig Gardner came on in place of James McFadden with eight minutes to go with the Scot looking far from happy to have been taken off as he sat on the bench. The game looked to be heading for a replay despite five minutes of added on time being signalled but it was not to be as the visitors snatched a late winner. A free kick just outside the area was miscued and found its way to Kevin Phillips unmarked eight yards from goal, he took a touch and turned and his effort hit the inside of the post before bouncing along the line allowing Liam Ridgewell to fire into the net.
It was a cruel blow for Derby who looked worthy of a replay and Robbie Savage very nearly gave them one when the ball sat up for him thirty yards from goal and he hit a dipping volley that looked destined for the top corner but Joe Hart reacted well to tip over for a corner. The set piece came to nothing and the visitors saw out the remaining moments to claim their place in the quarter-finals but it had been a good showing from Nigel Clough`s men and they can take heart from another solid display where they more than matched her opponents.