Goals from Paul Dickov and a last second equaliser from DJ Campbell grabbed Derby a point in a game they thought had slipped out of their grasp.
The Rams went into the game on the back of five straight home wins but will be happy with the point against high-flying West Bromwich Albion. Nigel Clough’s men had been given clear instructions to press their opponents all over the pitch and give them as little time as possible to settle into their passing rhythm.
On the whole the tactic was successful with the home side having a fair share of possession in the first half, it didn’t stop the visitors coming close through Simon Cox and Luke Moore. Moore had the games first opportunity but as he put the ball into the back of the net he was flagged offside but the referee’s assistant. And minutes later it was Cox who fired a warning shot to the home side. From a neat free kick routine Graham Dorrens found Cox unmarked on the edge of the area and his low shot clipped the post and went wide.
The game descended into a mass brawl mid way through the half as players from both sides reacted to a challenge by Robbie Savage on Dorrens. The Derby captain won the ball but Dorrens wasn’t happy with the challenge and as Savage began to get up from his sliding tackle Dorrens lashed out with kicks to Savage’s ribs. The melee ensued as players reacted to the whole incident, which led to Dorrens and Paul Dickov receiving yellow cards; referee Darren Deadman then gave West Brom the free kick much to the surprise of every single person in the ground.
The first half wasn’t all the visitors though; Derby had some good possession of their own and took the lead on 40 minutes. Without Scott Carson in goal the Baggies would have been behind earlier than they were, a low Gary Teale free kick was flicked on by Dickov only for Carson to make a wonderful reaction save and tip the ball over the bar. The West Brom keeper couldn’t do anything about the next effort from Dickov as the Rams took the lead. The Scot received a pass from Dean Moxey, he turned Abdoulaye Meite and let fly from 20 yards. The shot took a wicked deflection off Olsson and crashed off the bar and it the back of the net. The goal was Dickov’s second of his loan spell and just reward for his constant hard work.
As the second half began the Rams looked to extend their lead but they struggled to match the neat passing of their opponents and West Brom piled the pressure onto the home side. They got their reward in the most controversial of incidents. A cross from Chris Brunt was flicked on by Roman Bednar and bundled into the net by Simon Cox. The controversy came as the Derby players ran to the referee claiming Cox had put the ball into the net using his hand, after a quick consultation with his assistant the goal was given as neither official had seen anything wrong. Even when Cox admitted to the referee at the restart that he had used his hand the referee refused to act and let the game carry on. The visitors grew in confidence and began to launch attack after attack on the Derby defence. They got their reward in the second minute of added on time, an incisive breakaway from Felipe Teixeira found Dorrens inside the penalty area. He turned away from Frederik Stoor and lashed a shot into the top of the net, it was heartbreak for Derby’s players and fans as they had worked so hard to match the Baggies. From the restart the Rams went straight on the attack, a long cross field ball from Dean Moxey found Lee Hendrie on the right wing, his first time cross was met by DJ Campbell who headed home from 3 yards. The Rams deserved the equaliser as they had led the game for so long, and it was the perfect way for super-sub Campbell to introduce him with a goal on his debut.
The Rams now face two tricky away games at Preston and Watford, given their away record this season the outlook isn’t great but if the players show the heart and desire like they did against West Brom they may clock up their first away victory of the season.