Rams Premiership bound
28-05-07 - 3pm
Rams celebrate play-off victory
Derby County 1 West Bromwich Albion 0
Stephen Pearson scored the winner as Derby County booked their place in the Barclays Premiership - and a £50million jackpot - with a 1-0 win over West Brom.
The victory continued a remarkable turn-around in fortunes for the Rams who 12 months ago finished 20th in the Championship and flirted with relegation for much of the 2005-2006 campaign.
Billy Davies made a surprise selection bringing in Paul Peschisolido for only his fifth start of the season, with Jon Macken dropping to the bench. The Baggies were un-changed from their semi-final victory against Wolves.
Albion started brightly, forcing the Rams back, the first chance falling to Diomansy Kamara in the opening minutes. He skipped past Seth Johnson and Dean Leacock, but his shot was saved low by Stephen Bywater. The Rams settled and should have taken the lead in the 10th minute, Steve Howard sent Peschisolido in on goal, but the veteran striker's weak shot was easily saved by Dean Kiely.
The Baggies` players and supporters were all appealing for a penalty kick when the impressive Jason Koumas` surging run was ended by a Tyrone Mears tackle. The Rams fans in the crowd held their breath, but the tackle was superbly timed by Mears and referee Graham poll waved away their protests.
Albion were getting on top, and the dangerous Koumas was involved in many of their attacks, Derby defender Jay McEveley did well to block a far post volley from Zoltan Gera following a deep cross from Kamara.
Koumas again went close when he cut inside Craig Fagan on the left hand side of the penalty area but could not keep his effort down and flew high and wide.
The Baggies carved out the best chance of the half on 42 minutes, Kamara found Gera on the edge of the box who laid the ball off perfectly for Kevin Phillips whose first time shot from 15-yards clipped the cross bar with Bywater well beaten.
The second half began at a frantic pace with Kiely saving at the feet of Peschisolido while Bywater held onto Koumas' strike.
The Rams need a spark and it was given to them on 57 minutes with the introduction of Giles Barnes. It almost had an immediate impact, Fagan broke down the right and his cross was met on the volley by Matt Oakley, but a superb reflex save from Kiely denied the Rams skipper.
But the Rams were not to be denied and it was Barnes who set up the opener for Pearson after 61 minutes. Steve Howard collected the ball and sent Barnes into the right hand side of the box. He supplied an inviting low cross into the box and Pearson got in front of Paul McShane to slide the ball past Kiely, much to the delight of the Rams fans behind the goal.
Albion piled on the pressure but with the Darren Moore and Leacock solid in the centre and McEveley and Mears wide they withstood everything. Bywater saved from Jonathan Greening and Robinson late on, and the tireless work of Oakley in front of the back four stopped many of Albion`s attacking options.
The Rams fans had to endure four minutes of added-time, but at the final whistle this was a signal for scenes of great joy from Davies, his players and the 30,000 Derby fans.
Derby County - GK Bywater, Mears, Leacock, Moore, McEveley, Fagan (Edworthy 82), Oakley, S. Johnson (Jones 87), Pearson, Peschisolido (Barnes 57), Howrad
Subs not used - Camp, Macken
West Bromwich Albion - GK Kiely, Robinson, Perry, Greening, Gera (Ellington 70), Kamara, Koren, Koumas, McShane (Carter 70), Phillips, Sodje (Clement 81)
Subs not used - Daniels, Chaplow
Referee - Graham Poll
Att - 74,993
'It was always about the first goal - I told the players it would be crucial - and it was important for us to defend and be organised.
'I just had a funny feeling and I said it to Pearson for a week or so.
'He's a fantastic young player, with great athleticism and great at getting into the box, and I just felt he would be the match-winner.
'I kept saying to him that his time would come. It's great for him and everyone and it's a very proud moment.'
Mowbray felt his team created enough to win the game only to pay the price for failing to take their chances.
He said: 'The bottom line is we lost the football match. We were okay.
'In a one-off spectacle, we were the team forcing the issue for the majority of the game but the bottom line is it is all about winning and they got the goal.
'Our keeper made one good save, they scored a goal and we had numerous opportunities.
'Did we create enough? Yes, we did but we didn't score a goal and it wasn't our day.
'We more than matched them in every aspect of the game but we didn't put it in the net.'