Rams Held At Roots Hall
Rob Hulse scored early on but The Rams could not take advantage of the strike and were held to a 1-1 draw by Southend United at Roots Hall. Hulse`s header from a Kris Commons free kick gave them the lead in the first half and they hit the bar through John Brayford and Luke Varney before a soft second half penalty gave their hosts the chance to equalise and they didn`t trouble Rhys Evans in the home goal for the majority of the second half. Varney himself had an eventful night starting off at right back before moving into the centre of defence when Russell Anderson went off with suspected concussion just after the hour mark,
The game set off at a leisurely pace with neither side able to create anything early on and Derby took the lead with their first effort on target after ten minutes, Kris Commons flighted an inviting free kick into the area and Rob Hulse, who was fouled for the award, thumped a header into the net and passed Rhys Evans. The striker could have doubled the lead minutes later when Dean Leacock`s long ball caused the Southend defence problems but his shot was too close to Evans when one on one with the keeper.
The Rams were still using the 4-2-3-1 formation utilised at Burton on Saturday which was providing them with plenty of the ball and John Brayford was looking lively bombing forward from right back, the former Crewe man got his head to a corner but he couldn`t keep his effort down and it clipped the top of the bar before going over. Derby were showing some neat touches and keeping the ball well but Stephen Bywater had to be on his toes just before the break to turn away a host from Mohsni Bilel's as he turned in the area.
Nigel Clough made the promised eleven changes at the break with a much younger team coming out for the second half and there was again a place for trialists Connor Doyle and Amari Morgan-Smith. Luke Varney clipped the bar again when he got his head to a Ben Pringle corner but the fall flew over. The striker-cum-right back was then involved in the moment that lead to the equaliser on the hour mark when he was adjudged to have made contact with Anthony Grant inside the area and Matt Paterson scored from the penalty spot to level the scores.
The goal sparked a period of Southend possession although they failed to seriously trouble Saul Deeney in the Derby goal despite Luke Varney now playing in the centre of defence after Russell Anderson left the field with a suspected concussion. Derby fought back but the half petered out with little action of note in either penalty area although Deeney did have to make a sharp save from Scott Spencer when faced by the striker with fifteen minutes to go. Neither side managed a further breakthrough in the closing stages with the game finishing all square.
1st Half: Bywater, Brayford, Leacock, Moxey, Martin, Green, Abalimba, Cywka, Doyle, Commons, Hulse
2nd Half: Deeney, Varney, Anderson (Garton), O'Brien, Roberts, Savage, Bailey, Mills (Ledgister), Pringle, Connolly, Morgan-Smith