Ward On The Mark
Attendance: 33, 010
Derby County were held to a 1-1 draw by Nottingham Forest as the sides played out a tight East Midlands derby at Pride Park. Alex McLeish set his side up to stop The Rams usual quick tempo and after an opening flurry of shots they did their job well to prevent the home side from building up a head of steam. Chris Cohen rode his luck when a Billy Sharp cross found him in the area but after mishitting his first effort he coolly slotted home the second to give his side the advantage at the break. Conor Sammon robbed Simon Gillett and fed Jamie Ward who tucked home from just inside the area to level the scores seven minutes into the second period and Jeff Hendrick forced Karl Darlow into a flying save moments later. Billy Sharp fired wide from the edge of the area in a late rally from Forest but the side had to settle for a point each at the final whistle.
Craig Bryson and Jamie Ward were the surprise inclusions for The Rams as Nigel Clough made two changes to side beaten at Brighton last weekend and Bryson was involved early on when he clipped the side netting with a skidding effort from twenty yards. He was then fouled on the edge of the area and Ward`s freekick clipped the wall before flying inches wide of the goal with Karl Darlow going the wrong way. Richard Keogh was levered out of a header by Billy Sharp and he set up Simon Cox who took a touch on the edge of the area before crashing a shot against the bar with the ball bouncing to safety.
Gonzalo Jara should have done better after the ball was cut back to him inside the area but he fired hopelessly over and Forest took the lead after a stroke of fortune just after the half hour mark. Sharp was allowed to cross from the right with the ball finding Chris Cohen, the midfielder completely mishit his effort which spooned up in the air and the ball fell to him again before calmly slotting passed Adam Legzdins. Ward exchanged passes with Conor Sammon and the former Sheffield United man curled an effort narrowly wide of the far post in the last opportunity of the half as The Rams trailed at the break.
The Rams drew themselves level seven minutes into the second half when their front two linked up again. Sammon robbed Simon Gillett and outmuscled the Forest defenders in his path before playing the ball to Ward who showed great composure to fire across Darlow and into the far corner. Jeff Hendrick was next to threaten when he ran at goal before shooting from outside the area but Darlow did well to tip his effort over the top before Mark O`Brien headed over from the resulting corner. Both sides looked edgy in the closing stages with Sharp firing wide from the edge of the area after a neat turn and Will Hughes` firing over at the other end but neither side could find the decisive breakthrough as the game ended all square.
Derby County: Legzdins; Brayford, Keogh, O'Brien, Roberts; Coutts, Hughes, Hendrick, Bryson (Jacobs 75); Ward (Robinson 66), Sammon.
Subs Not Used: Fielding, O'Connor, Freeman, Bennett, Davies.
Nottingham Forest: Darlow, Jara, E. Ward, Collins, Halford; Lansbury, Gillett (Moussi 63), Cohen, Majewski (Blackstock 62); Sharp, Cox.
Subs Not Used: Etimov, Maloney, Greening, McGugan, Harding.