Date:Tuesday March 8 2011
Attendance: 13, 712
Middlesbrough fought back from a goal down to claim a vital three points against Derby County at the Riverside Stadium with a 2-1 victory. A tense first half saw The Rams take the lead after Jamie Ward picked himself up to convert a penalty after being brought down with Frank Fielding saving from Seb Hines in Boro`s best moment. The home side stepped things up after the break to try and find a way back into the match and Fielding had to be on his game to deny Leroy Lita and Barry Robson. The pressure built up and John Brayford could only turn a Hines header into his own net with fifteen minutes to go. In a nervy finish Merouane Zemmama had an effort from the edge of the area deflected past Fielding to give his side the win in dramatic fashion to close the gap on The Rams and leave them nervously eyeing the bottom three.
Derby made two changes to the side who claimed a point against Barnsley on Saturday with Tomasz Cywka missing out through injury and Robbie Savage dropping to the bench to be replaced by Conor Doyle and Miles Addison in midfield. Scott McDonald gave The Rams a scare in the opening stages when he turned neatly inside Shaun Barker but Frank Fielding was off his line quickly to claim the ball at his feet. The home side`s edginess was clear to see but Seb Hines` header from a Barry Robson freekick forced a save from Fielding whilst Theo Robinson and Jamie Ward looked threatening at the other end without going close to opening the scoring.
Chances were at a premium for both sides and Derby took the lead just after the half-hour mark when neat linkup play between Robinson and Ward sent the later clear on goal only to be brought down by Nicky Bailey. It could have been a red for the Boro man but the referee only cautioned him and Ward picked himself up to slam the penalty past Paul Smith in the home goal to put The Rams ahead. The crowd were getting restless as their side were struggling again and Shaun Barker and Daniel Ayala were standing firm at the heart of the visitor`s backline to clear anything that came their way. The only effort of note in the closing stages came from Robson but his thirty-yard effort was wide of the mark as his side trailed at the break.
Chris Porter came off at the bench in the interval to replace Jamie Ward after he complained of a tight hamstring with Nigel Clough not wanting to take any chances with the injury. Boro`s leading scorer Leroy Lita came close to an equaliser just before the hour but Fielding made a sharp save at his near post, the chance coming moments after Porter had a diving header from a Stephen Pearson cross ruled out for offside. Fielding was in action again a few minutes later to deny McDonald whilst Conor Doyle then had to head off the line from a Rhys Williams effort.
Robson was next to threaten with an effort from outside of the area but Fielding was again equal to it going full length to his left to push the ball behind for a corner. The pressure eventually told with fifteen minutes to go when Hines` goalbound header was diverted into the back of the net by John Brayford who could only divert the ball onto the post and in at full stretch. Both sides looked to go for the winner in the closing stages but it was Boro who had the best chance when Fielding managed to claw a Robson header over the top from close range with a fine reaction save. The Rams couldn`t hold on though as substitute Merouane Zemmama let fly from the edge of the box and his shot took a wicked deflection to deceive Fielding and give the home side a vital lead with two minutes on the clock. Derby couldn`t raise themselves in added time and fell to a disappointing defeat.
Middlesbrough: Smith, McDonald (Zemmama 75), Bailey, Lita, Robson, Hines, Williams, Taylor, Bennett, McMahon, Smallwood (Emnes 59)
Subs: Ripley, Haas, Kink, Grounds, Tavares
Derby County: Fielding, Brayford, Barker, Ayala, Roberts, Doyle (B Davies 75), Pearson, Green, Addison, Ward (Porter 46), Robinson
Subs: Duke, Bueno, Savage, S Davies, Buxton
Date:Tuesday March 8 2011
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