Boro Down Derby
Attendance: 17, 407
Derby County lost 2-0 against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium but can count themselves a little unlucky that they didn`t take anything out of the match after a combination of the woodwork and Luke Steele kept them out in the second half. Mason Bennett made history by becoming the youngest player to pull on a Derby shirt and he came close with a header in the early stages but Boro went into the break ahead when a fortunate deflection from Rhys Williams saw the ball loop into the net from a Justin Hoyte shot. Theo Robinson hit the post at the start of the second period and despite falling further behind to a Marvin Emnes header The Rams continued to create opportunities with Bennett being denied a debut goal by the cross bar and a deflected cross also striking the bar. Whilst it wasn`t all one way Luke Steele also made saves from Chris Maguire and Craig Bryson to ensure his side took all three points.
Mason Bennett was a surprise starter and he became The Rams` youngest ever player at 15 years and 99 days when he started up front alongside Theo Robinson and Lee Croft came in at rightback in place of the injured Russell Anderson in two changes to the Derby side. Julio Arca had the first effort of the game on two minutes when his curling effort was held by Frank Fielding and Bennett almost made the dream start to his debut when he met Theo Robinson`s cross but his glancing header drifted the wrong side of the post.
Fielding gathered a header from Merouane Zemmama's header at his near post following Tony McMahon's deep free-kick to the far post and Robinson headed off target from Jason Shackell`s header across goal from a Ben Davies freekick. Croft reacted well to clear a Marvin Emnes shot off the line just after the half-hour mark and Scott McDonald and Tony McMahon both went close as the home side stepped up the pressure. Just as Derby looked to have made it through to halftime they fell behind when Justin Hoyte`s shot from the edge of the area took a wicked deflection off of Rhys Williams and looped into the net to give his side the lead.
Derby came out on the attack at the start of the second period and Robinson was first to a Davies cross but a combination of Luke Steele in the Boro goal and the post kept his effort out and the keeper was forced into saves from Craig Bryson and Bennett as The Rams looked for an equaliser. Despite the pressure they found themselves two goals behind seven minutes in when Emnes headed home from McMahon`s cross after finding room inside the area. Shackell was replaced by Kevin Kilbane shortly afterwards after suffering from a hip injury and Chris Maguire was also introduced just after the hour mark in place of Robinson.
Maguire cut in from right and shot at goal was only palmed away by Steele and Bennett hit the bar with his effort from the rebound as he was again inches away from making a dream start to his career. Jamie Ward made room for himself moving inside from the left and his curling effort struck the bar as Derby desperately looked for a way back into the match. It wasn`t to be for Nigel Clough`s side though and their luck was summed up when a deflected cross bounced off the crossbar and back into play and Steele pulled off another fine save from a Maguire header in the dieing stages.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte, Bennett, Zemmama (Ogbeche 67), McManus, McDonald, Emnes (Martin 76), Bailey, Williams, Arca, McMahon (Kink 81)
Subs Not Used: Tchuimeni-Nimely, Haroun
Derby County: Fielding, Croft, O'Brien, Shackell (Kilbane 57), Roberts, Ward, Hendrick, Bryson, B Davies, Robinson (Maguire 64), Bennett (Cywka 78)
Subs Not Used: Legzdins, Doyle