Barker Earns A Point
Shaun Barker thumped home midway through the second half to give Derby County their third consecutive draw after withstanding an early barrage by Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road. Stephen Bywater made three impressive early saves to deny the home side but just as The Rams looked to have reached the break on level terms they fell asleep at a throw-in and Lee Cook punished them by firing home from the edge of the area. Nigel Clough`s side stepped up their game in the second half and their improvement was rewarded at the mid-point when a free kick was only half cleared and Shaun Barker was first to the loose ball before taking a touch and firing low into the net. Rowan Vine came close to winning the match late on when his volley crashed back off the bar but both sides left with a point to inch closer to safety.
Nigel Clough brought Robbie Savage back into the side in place of Rob Hulse who dropped to the bench with Chris Porter leading the line by himself upfront supported by Michael Tonge in a slightly advanced role. It was Rangers who started the game strongly though and Stephen Bywater showed his recovery from the back injury that kept him out recently with three fine stops in the opening fifteen minutes. Jay Simpson was the first to threaten with a low shot from inside the area that Bywater reacted well to to turn away and moments later he got his hands to a Matthew Connolly effort after the fullback cut in from the left and let fly. The third save came on the fifteen minute mark as Alejandro Faurlin let fly from 35 yards but Bywater was again equal to it pushing the effort to safety to his left.
After riding the early storm The Rams began to fight their way back into the match and Chris Porter was inches away from a dangerous looking Gilles Sunu cross and Shaun Barker got a looping header on target but it was a simple save in the end for Carl Ikeme in the Rangers goal. Robbie Savage was next to threaten the on-loan Wolves keeper with a free kick from the edge of the area but his strike was straight at Ikeme who again saved easily. Just as Derby appeared to have seen out the first half to go in level they fell asleep as Rangers took the lead. A quick throw-in caught them out and the ball found Lee Cook wide on the left and he cut inside Nicky Hunt before crashing home a low drive from the edge of the area.
Dean Leacock came on at the break in place of Gilles Sunu with Nicky Hunt pushing into midfield in a more advanced role. Derby started the second half brightly and Ikeme spilled a Michael Tonge corner but Damion Stewart was there to hack the ball to safety as Chris Porter looked to pounce. Steven Davies was next to be introduced an hour in when Nicky Hunt made way for the young striker as The Rams continued on the front foot in search of the equaliser.
The bright play was rewarded on sixty-seven minutes when a free kick into the Rangers area was only half cleared and Shaun Barker took full advantage firing a low effort past the motionless Ikeme and into the net to level the scores. The Rams continued to take the game to the home side with the Rangers fans becoming increasingly frustrated after their first half dominance. As they did step up the pressure in the closing stages Barker and Anderson stood firm at the heart of the Derby defence.
Rob Hulse came on for Chris Porter with eight minutes to go but it was Rangers who came closest to winning when Rowan Vine crashed a volley against the bar in the final minutes but both sides were forced to settle for a point as The Rams increased the gap to the bottom three to six points after their third successive draw.