Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Sunday February 3 2008
Villa stuns the Blues
The Rams earned their first back-to-back points of the season with a come from behind 1-1 draw against Birmingham City at St Andrews.
Emanuel Villa's last-minute header, his first for the Rams, gave Paul Jewell`s side a point but Giles Barnes had the chance to give the Rams victory in stoppage-time but fired straight at Maik Taylor.
Jewell gave Rams debut`s to new signings Alan Stubbs and Roy Carroll, they replaced the injured Claude Davis and keeper Lewis Price, Also Laurent Robert replaced Stephen Pearson in midfield as the Rams went in search of their first league win on the road this season.
It was a vital game for both sides in the relegation fight and the home side began well, Fabrice Muamba inches away from converting Garry O'Connor's low right wing cross in the opening minute.
The Rams were well marshaled by Stubbs at the back but the Blues continued to have the better of the game with Olivier Kapo spurning two golden opportunities but the Rams settled and Robbie Savage, who was booed every time he touched the ball by the home fans, fired wide on the half hour.
The home side had the ball in the net moments later but O`Conner was in an offside position, his first chance was superbly saved by Carroll but the referee`s assistant`s flag was already raised when he tapped in the rebound.
The Blues went close again five minutes later, new signing James McFadden headed over from close-range after another fine cross from O`Connor.
Craig Fagan found space down the right on a number of occasions but his delivery into the box was poor and the Rams went in to the break at 0-0.
Jewell`s half time address worked as the Rams looked better and went with in inches of taking the lead on 52 minutes. Kenny Miller`s miss-hit shot fell to Hassam Ghaly who returned the ball back to the Scottish international striker who curled a shot on to the post with Taylor well beaten, the rebound fell to Robert Earnshaw who also hit the post but was in an offside position.
The traveling Rams fans were in full voice but it was the Blues that looked the likely to score, Larsson broke down the right wing, but again the finish was lacking as Muamba fluffed his kick from six-yards with just keeper Roy Carroll to beat.
Jewell sent on Villa and Giles Barnes on the hour replacing Robert and Earnshaw, but the home side continued to press for the opener.
McFadden wasted another chance, his poor touch allowing Carroll to save bravely at his feet, before Larsson finally gave the home side the lead.
Blues debutant Murphy won the ball with a strong challenge, then exchanged passes with Kapo before firing a deep cross that Larsson converted from 10-yards after his initial header had deflected back to him fortuitously off Marc Edworthy.
The Rams showed great resilience and fought back late to earn a point on 89 minutes. Barnes out-stripped Liam Ridgewell down the right and got to a long ball before pulling it back to Leacock.
The defenders cross in to the box found Villa whose glancing header beat Taylor and went in off the post, much to the delight of the Rams traveling supporters behind the goal.
There was still time for the Rams to nick all three points Ghaly played Barnes in on goal but the Rams youngster snatched at his shot and Taylor saved low.
Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Kelly, Martin Taylor, Ridgewell, Murphy, Larsson (Zarate 76), Johnson, Muamba, Kapo, O'Connor, McFadden.
Subs Not Used: Doyle, Forssell, Jerome, Parnaby.
Derby: Carroll, Leacock, Moore (Todd 67), Stubbs, Edworthy, Fagan, Ghaly, Savage, Robert (Barnes 60), Earnshaw (Villa 61), Miller.
Subs Not Used: Price, Teale.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).
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Date:Sunday February 3 2008
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