Garry Monk’s men twice led through goals from Lukas Jutkiewicz and Michael Morrison but were pegged back on each occasion by play-chasing Rams, Martyn Waghorn and Richard Keogh on target for the visitors.BCFC.COM
Garry Monk’s men twice led through goals from Lukas Jutkiewicz and Michael Morrison but were pegged back on each occasion by the play-chasing Rams, Martyn Waghorn and Richard Keogh on target for the visitors.
The home side had several good opportunities to nick the win, including two late penalty appeals, but had to settle for a creditable draw which extends their unbeaten run to four matches.
Blues made the perfect start as Jutkiewicz maintained his recent purple patch by firing the hosts ahead after just two minutes. Jota’s in-swinging corner dissected the packed penalty area and Jutkiewicz connected with the bouncing ball, his header coming back off the turf and flying into the corner of the net for the striker’s third goal in five outings.
Sadly, the hosts’ lead lasted only four-and-a-half minutes. Derby’s equaliser was about as long-ball as you can get – a hopeful punt up-field from Jayden Bogle putting Waghorn clear though. The visitors’ number nine looked distinctly offside but the assistant’s flag wasn’t forthcoming, and the striker showed impressive composure to lob the ball over the advancing Lee Camp for his 12th goal of the season.
This topsy-turvy game took another turn for the better on 18 minutes. Just like the last home game against Sheffield United, Michael Morrison was the fox in the box, crashing home the loose ball from close-range after Kelle Roos had parried away Gary Gardner’s header.
What one captain could do, the other could match – Keogh levelling matters again on 28 minutes when a short-corner routine gave Ashley Cole the time and space to curl a delightful ball to the far post and right onto the head of his skipper. Camp got a hand to the ball but couldn’t stop it from hitting the back of the net.
An incredibly open game came within inches of creating a fifth goal just after the half-hour mark when Che Adams showed great strength and awareness to hold off his opponent wide on the right, lob the ball over another, before squaring to Jutkiewicz whose first-time side-footed effort flew narrowly wide of Roos’ left-hand post.
Morrison came to his side’s rescue at the other end when his crucial last-ditch and perfectly-timed sliding tackle prevented Tom Lawrence from getting a golden chance to put the Rams ahead.
Having combined to put Blues in front early in the first half, Jota and Jutkiewicz could have done the same less than a minute into the second period, the Spaniard’s corner from the right met by the head of the big striker but he couldn’t keep his effort down.
Adams had a clearer opportunity to put the hosts back in front on 49 minutes when Jota won the ball in the centre of the park and poked it through to the Blues top scorer, who advanced into the area but saw his shot well blocked by Cole.
The Jota-Jutkiewicz corner-kick routine almost did the trick again on 58 minutes, the striker ghosting in to connect to the winger’s cross with a diving header, the ball agonisingly crashing onto the inside of the post. When it came out into a crowded six-yard box it looked like Harlee Dean might force home the rebound, but the ball rolled just a little too wide of goal for the defender to get his effort on target.
An exciting game swung from end to end with both sides looking for the chance to steal all three points in this hard-fought contest, the tireless Jutkiewicz going off on 79 minutes after receiving treatment to be replaced by Isaac Vassell.
Fikayo Tomori had not one, but two chances to put Derby in front on 88 minutes following a lofted cross into the area, the central defender seeing his shot parried out by Camp and then unable to get sufficient power on his follow-up header.
Blues had a good opportunity too – Maghoma careering into the area and teeing up Adams whose shot was blocked by Cole. The home players felt the defender had used his hand, but the referee waved away the appeals – as he did again a few minutes later when another strong penalty shout was dismissed.
Morrison had the last chance of the game when the ball came to him on the edge of the box, his measured curling effort bouncing wide of the post.
Rotherham’s defeat at Swansea means Blues travel to the New York Stadium on Monday needing a point to secure safety.
Blues (4-4-2): Camp; Colin, Morrison, Dean, Pedersen; Jota, G Gardner, Davis, Maghoma; Jutkiewicz (Vassell 79), Adams.
Subs (not used): Roberts, Harding, C Gardner, Mrabti, Lakin, Trueman.
Goals: Jutkiewicz (2), Morrison (18)
Bookings: G Gardner (38), Jutkiewicz (56), Adams (90+2)
Derby County (4-3-3): Roos; Bogle, Keogh, Tomori, Cole; Bryson, Johnson, Mount; Lawrence (Nugent 84), Waghorn (Marriott 71), Wilson (Bennett 71).
Subs (not used): Wisdom, Evans, Huddlestone, Carson.
Goals: Waghorn (9), Keogh (28)
Bookings: Bryson (45+2), Cole (66)
Referee: Simon Hooper
Attendance: 23,902 (2,978 away)