Commons Inspires Rams To Victory
Attendance: 24, 739
Kris Commons helped steer Derby County to a second home victory in four days as they recovered from a goal down and a missed penalty to beat Middlesbrough 3-1 at Pride Park. After Kris Boyd gave the visitors a surprise lead Commons looked to have been given the perfect change to reply but his penalty was saved by Luke Steele in the Boro goal. He recovered well though to setup Shaun Barker`s equaliser on the stroke of halftime with a deep corner and he curled in two superb goals in the second period to turn the game around and guide his side to a deserved victory. Stephen Bywater pulled off a reaction save to deny Boyd his second of the evening from close range but despite some late pressure The Rams saw out the closing stages to claim all three points.
Tomasz Cywka came into the starting line-up as injury forced Nigel Clough to shuffle the side that comfortably beat Crystal Palace on Saturday with Dean Leacock the man to miss out with a hamstring problem. This meant John Brayford continued in the centre of defence with Paul Green covering for him at right back with Cywka taking up a familiar position on the right of the midfield. The Rams started well and Robbie Savage`s free kick brought a save out of Luke Steele in the visitor`s goal and Shefki Kuqi headed wide of the mark when presented with an opportunity moments later. Despite the early running it was Boro who took the lead after a rare break forward on twenty minutes, Barry Robson whipped in a cross from the right and Kris Boyd glanced a header beyond Stephen Bywater into the far corner.
The Rams had an almost immediate chance to draw level when Steele brought down Kuqi in the area but Kris Commons` tame penalty was easily saved by the keeper to preserve the one goal advantage. Nicky Bailey then came close again for Boro when his drive flew narrowly over the top and Steele was on his toes to deny Alberto Bueno after the youngster won the ball back on the edge of the area but his shot was straight at the keeper. Boyd had a chance when a corner found him six yards from goal but his header sailed harmlessly over the top.
Brayford won the ball at the back and powered forward and unleashed a drive from 40-yards that flew narrowly wide of the mark and Derby eventually got the break through their endeavours deserved on the stroke of halftime. Kris Commons hit a deep corner to the back post and Shaun Barker rose highest to power his header back across goal and into the net to leave the sides all square going into the break.
Derby took the momentum from the first half into the early stages of the second half and went ahead after another spectacular goal from Kris Commons; he received the ball in space and turned to run at goal before curling an effort into the top corner beyond the despairing dive of Steele from the edge of the area. It got better on the hour mark when Commons took a short corner and got the ball back before curling in another superb effort to put The Rams 3-1 ahead and making up for his earlier penalty miss although he was replaced soon afterwards as he felt his thigh tighten up with Stephen Pearson continuing his comeback form injury.
Bywater produced a fine save to deny Boyd his second of the match from a point blank header with twenty five minutes to go as Boro desperately looked for a way back into the match and the former Rangers striker twice fired harmlessly over the top when well placed. Bueno was denied by a fine block by Wheater as he looked to make room inside the area and James Bailey brought a top class save out of Steele with a low effort from the edge of the area in the closing stages as Derby saw out the victory, despite some late pressure from the visitors, to claim their second home win in four days and heap more pressure on Gordon Strachan.
Derby County: Bywater, Green, Brayford, Barker, Moxey, Bailey, Savage (Pringle 90), Cywka, Commons (Pearson 66), Bueno (Moore 79), Kuqi
Subs: Deeney, Doyle, Noble, O'Brien
Middlesbrough: Steele, Wheater, McMahon, Arca (Bennett 46), McManus, O'Neil, Bailey (Kink 62), Tavares (Halliday 75), Robson, Lita, Boyd
Subs: Coyne, Miller, Williams, Bates