Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Monday August 13 2007
Todd Rams home for point
Derby 2 Portsmouth 2
Rams defender Andy Todd scored his first goal for 17 months on his Rams debut to deny Portsmouth striker John Utaka his own moment of debut glory.
After Benjani Mwaruwari had cancelled out Rams captain Matt Oakley`s fourth-minute opener later in the first half, the game then exploded late on with two goals in two minutes.
Utaka, a £7m buy from Rennes this summer, appeared to have grabbed the limelight with an 82nd-minute strike at Pride Park.
However, within seconds defender Todd, a free transfer capture from Blackburn, clinched a deserved point for Billy Davies side on their return to the Barclays Premier League with a diving header.
The Rams fans had just all about reached their seats when the firstr goal of the new campaign was scored. Stephen Bywater punted a long goal kick up field, and Steve Howard outjumped Sol Campbell, and looped it into space with barely a blue shirt within yards of Oakley who was given a clear sight of David James` goal, and he made no mistake with a crisp right-foot drive from 15-yards.
Pride Park erupted, the Rams were back we`re they belong. The Rams never looked faced and their football was assured, while the visitors appeared all at sea in the opening stages
It should have been 2-0 six minutes, the Pompey defence didn`t deal with a Craig Fagan cross and it fell kindly to Todd on the edge of the box, but he shot over the crossbar. Then Darren Moore headed goal wards but James saved on the line.
But the visitors settled and Pedro Mendes shot from 25-yards was saved by Stephen Bywater, and moments later they levelled, Mwaruwari cutting inside Andy Griffin and firing low past Bywater.
There was chances at both ends before the break, Utaka forced a fine save from Bywater, and
Howard`s downward glancing header to a right-wing cross from Craig Fagan clipped the outside of James` left-hand post.
After the interval the chances continued to fall the Rams way, aided initially by a wayward Muntari pass along the halfway line that was intercepted by Fagan, he outpaced Campbell but again James saved.
The Rams appeared as if they would pay for their missed opportunities when Utaka scored from close-range. But the Rams, with a near sell out crowd behind them, refused to go under, and second half substitute Gary Teale, cut in from the right hand side of the penalty area and crossed to Todd to grab a share of the spoils.
DERBY COUNTY: Bywater; Mears, Moore, Davis, Griffin; Fagan, Oakley, Todd, Pearson; Howard, Earnshaw. Subs: Price, McEveley, Jones, Macken, Teale.
PORTSMOUTH: James; Lauren, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson; Utaka, Davis, Mendes, Muntari; Nugent, Benjani. Subs: Ashdown, Taylor, Pamarot, Hughes, Kanu.
Ref: M Dean (Wirrall).
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Date:Monday August 13 2007
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