Rams Settle For A Point
Attendance: 29, 724
A much changed Derby County side returned from Elland Road with a point as they were held to a 1-1 draw with Leeds United. With third place secured and not wanting to risk injuries The Rams had an unfamiliar look but they were in front inside six minutes when Jeff Hendrick was denied only for Simon Dawkins to follow up from close range. Dawkins looked lively in the opening stages but Leeds came back into the game using Matt Smith as a target for a number of balls forward and Lee Grant had to be on his toes to deny the former Oldham striker when he was quick off his line to keep his effort out. Smith's dinked finish five minutes into the second period levelled the scores and the goal put Leeds in the ascendancy with Danny Pugh and Ross McCormack both coming close before Patrick Bamford had a near post effort kept out by Jack Butland as the sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Steve McClaren made six changes to the side with the play-offs in mind with starts for Zak Whitbread, John Eustace, Conor Sammon and Simon Dawkins amongst those coming into the side. Sammon was involved inside two minutes when he exchanged passes with Craig Forsyth with the later forcing Jack Butland into a sharp reflex save with a firmly hit effort. As their bright start continued The Rams took the lead when Patrick Bamford picked out Jeff Hendrick and whilst Butland kept out the initial effort Dawkins was at hand to bundle the ball in from close range on six minutes.
Matt Smith was proving a handful in the air with Leeds taking a more direct approach and he was first to a floated ball from Tom Lees but Lee Grant was out to meet him and keep his effort out before Derby's goalkeeper was on hand again to tip over a header from the same player. Will Hughes was involved at the other end after a jinking run saw him find Dawkins but Butland kept his effort out with another good save. Leeds ended the first-half on top with Ross McCormack lifting an effort over Grant but over the bar and Michael Brown's shot being kept out at the second attempt by the keeper.
Michael Tonge volleyed wide from the edge of the area as the home side started the second period strongly and they were level five minutes in. McCormack was picked out by a pinpoint pass from Danny Pugh and he beat Richard Keogh before sliding in Smith who dinked a neat finish over Grant for the equaliser. Leeds were on top and looking dangerous although The Rams' backline were up to the challenge with a number of well timed challenges and interceptions denying clear cut chances. Pugh's diving header hit the side netting after he was picked out by a ball into the area and McCormack headed straight into the grateful arms of Grant from close range. Bamford had a chance when he escaped down the left but his shot was kept out at the near post by Butland as Derby's recent winning run against the Yorkshire side came to end as they had to settle for a point.
Leeds United: Butland, Lees, Pearce, Wootton, Pugh, Tonge, Brown, Austin, Murphy (White 45), McCormack, Smith.
Substitutes not used: Cairns, Poleon, Walters, Dawson, Thompson, Hunt.
Derby County: Grant; Wisdom, Keogh, Whitbread, Forsyth; Eustace, Hendrick (Bryson 90), Hughes; Bamford (Russell 90), Dawkins (Bennett 78), Sammon.
Substitutes not used: Legzdins, Naylor, Buxton, Thorne.