Davies Stunner Wins It
Attendance: 27, 252
Two goals in three second half minutes, the second an absolute stunner from Ben Davies, gave Derby County a deserved 2-1 victory over Leeds United at Pride Park as they completed the double over their promotion chasing visitors. An evenly matched first half saw chances hard to come by but a Max Gradel rocket just before the hour mark looked to have turned the game in the Yorkshire sides` favour. As at the weekend though The Rams struck back almost immediately when Jamie Ward struck from close range after a superb run from Stephen Pearson. Minutes later Pearson picked out Ben Davies on the edge of the area and the midfielder thundered home a volley from the edge of the area giving Kasper Schmeichel no chance and completing the turnaround. Leeds threw everything at Derby but their back line stood firm and there were further chances for Ward, Steve Davies and Ben Davies as the win could have been by a bigger margin in the end.
Nigel Clough made two changes to the side who claimed a point at the weekend with Stephen Pearson and Gareth Roberts returning to the side in place of Alberto Bueno and Dean Leacock. Leeds lined up with former Ram Paul Connolly and loanees Barry Bannan and Jake Livermore in their starting eleven. The first half was a cagey affair with both sides closing down and harrying their opponents leaving them with no time on the ball. Bannan let fly with his left foot just after the twenty minute mark but he couldn`t get his effort on target and Luciano Becchio found James Howson but Brad Jones was equal to his rightfoot effort to push the ball to safety.
The Rams started the second half on the front foot and Jamie Ward came close with a shot from just outside the area with Schmeichel scrambling. Derby continued on the front foot but it was Leeds who took the lead on fifty-eight minutes when Max Gradel found room on the edge of the area and his firm right footed effort flew past Jones who got a hand to it but couldn`t keep it out. It was a shock for Nigel Clough`s side but they didn`t let it knock them out of their stride and they struck back immediately when Stephen Pearson`s marauding run down the left and low cross picked out Jamie Ward who fired into the roof of the net from close range to level the scores. Two minutes later they then went in front when Pearson`s corner from the left picked out Ben Davies on the edge of the area and he crashed a first-time volley past Schmeichel giving the keeper no chance.
Leeds threw everything at The Rams to try and find a way back into the match with Davide Somma and Bradley Johnson being brought on to liven things up up front. Despite a number of long balls into the area Shaun Barker and Daniel Ayala were standing tall to everything that was thrown at them and Ben Davies could have sewn up the victory when substitute Theo Robinson played him clear on goal but Schmeichel spread himself well to deny the Derby man. Jamie Ward again came close again from just outside the area and Steve Davies was played in by a neat reverse pass from Robinson but he screwed his rightfoot effort across the goal. Five minutes of added time were signalled with Leeds pumping the ball into the Derby area at every chance but, despite an injury to Jones who continued with a bandaged head, The Rams held on after a couple of hairy moments when they struggled to clear. The win left them eleven points clear of the bottom three and virtually sews up their survival in The Championship for another year.
Derby County: Jones, Brayford, Barker, Ayala, Roberts, B Davies, Pearson (Robinson 75), Savage, Bailey, Ward (Porter 86), S Davies (Addison 90).
Subs: Atkins, Leacock, Bueno, Anderson.
Leeds United: Schmeichel, Connolly, Gradel, Kilkenny, Becchio (Somma 64), Howson, Livermore (Johnson 64), Lichaj, Bannan (McCormack 72), Bromby, O'Brien.
Subs: Bruce, Naylor, Sam, Higgs