Derby County 3-2 Town
Saturday, 14th Aug 2004 18:24
Town lost their first game of 2004/05 3-2 at George Burley's Derby County despite being 2-1 up at the break. A penalty from Tommy Miller and a second from Dean Bowditch a minute later had put the Blues in front but goals from Marco Reich (2) and Inigo Idiakez won the game for the Rams.
Joe Royle picked the same side which drew at Nottingham Forest in the week but with Dean Bowditch replacing Shefki Kuqi up front.
It was mainly Derby in the early stages, an Idiakez freekick from the left beating everyone and Kelvin Davis's post, while former Villa man Ian Taylor might have done better than scrape his shot wide.
On 10 Tommy Smith should have at least forced Davis into a save after the impressive Morten Bisgaard found him inside the area. The ex-Sunderland man took a touch but sent his shot well over.
Idiakez almost caught out Kelvin Davis with a sharp freekick from the right in the 13th minute, the Spaniard's curling shot almost creeping into the corner of the net with Davis awaiting a cross in the centre of the goal.
Fortunately for the Blues, their keeper just managed to get across to block it, Junior failing to control the loose ball and putting it out for a goalkick.
Town had started slowly and as at Forest hadn't managed to get their passing going. A rare decent interchange saw Miller and Bent set-up Dinning but his strike from the edge of the area went just past Lee Camp's post.
Smith hit a shot over, before Bowditch almost played in Bent through the middle, but Camp was out quickly to grab the ball.
Derby went ahead in the 37th minute. Bisgaard, who had often proved a threat, crossed from the right, and Reich running in from the opposite flank, headed powerfully past Davis.
The German was probably Drissa Diallo's man but Jason De Vos might have got his head to the ball ahead of the Derby midfielder.
Town came close to an equaliser just two minutes later. A Horlock freekick was half-cleared and Westlake and Bowditch both had goal-bound shots blocked inside the area.
With four minutes remaining before the break, Town were awarded a penalty. Bent played a ball across the box to an unmarked Westlake who headed the ball down before being clattered to the ground by Nathan Doyle.
It looked an obvious penalty and Doyle was lucky the referee didn't deem him to have denied Town a goalscoring opportunity and shown him a red card.
Tommy Miller continued his excellent penalty record for both the Blues and Hartlepool, beating Camp to his right.
Amazingly, within a minute the Blues were ahead, and again they had the hapless Doyle to thank, the defender this time playing the ball back to Camp but only succeeding in putting Dean Bowditch in the clear. The 17-year-old took his time before sliding the ball under Camp and into the net.
It was a remarkable turnaround, particularly as Town had rarely threatened and had looked well below par throughout.
The Derby fans booed referee Richard Beeby off at the break, although there was little he could do other than award a penalty given the clumsiness of Doyle's tackle. They were perhaps fortunate not to go in down to 10 men.
Three minutes after the restart had the ball in the net again. Tommy Miller had played in Darren Bent but the striker had been flagged offside.
Doyle's afternoon got a little worse on 54 when he picked up a yellow card for a tackle from behind on Westlake.
Bisgaard continued to cause problems down the right and three minutes later sent a low ball across the box which failed to get a touch from a player of either side.
A minute later, the game's only real moment of class got the home side back on terms. Jason De Vos was picked up for a foul on Tommy Smith on the edge of the area, Inigo Idiakez striking a superb kick into the top left-hand corner of Kelvin Davis's goal, giving the keeper no chance.
Joe Royle decided that changes were in order as the hour mark approached, Pablo Couñago replacing Dean Bowditch and Fabian Wilnis taking over at left-back from Matt Richards.
Soon after, Tony Dinning picked up what appeared to be a very harsh yellow card. The loanee kicked the ball out of play ahead of a Derby player, however, the referee had already called play back and showed a yellow card for dissent, moving the freekick 10 yards closer goal. On this occasion Idiakez was less accurate with his effort.
On 66 Derby went back in front. Drissa Diallo needlessly kept a cross from the Rams' right in play with a weak header, the ball falling to Marco Reich inside the Town area. The German took the ball inside before hitting a shot which deflected into the corner of the net, leaving Davis helpless.
Town huffed and puffed in the closing 24 minutes but failed to create anything clear-cut, Kuqi replacing Tommy Miller to add a greater aerial threat. Kevin Horlock picked up a yellow card for a foul on Bisgaard.
The only serious chance of the last 10 minutes fell to Derby sub Marcus Tudgay, the striker heading a fine cross from the left wide under pressure from Fabian Wilnis.
Another disappointing performance from the Blues who once again rarely passed the ball with any coherence. Town's best period came after the break and their two quick goals but once the home side were back on terms there were few ideas from a Town midfield once again looking lost without Jim Magilton to pull the strings.
Drissa Diallo, although certainly at fault on one goal and arguably on another, largely defended well but his lack of attacking ability greatly restricts Town down the right flank.
Kelvin Davis couldn't be faulted on any of the goals and otherwise was untested by a Derby side which passed the ball well but didn't really make as much as they should have out of their possession.
Miller took his penalty with his usual aplomb and Bowditch finished in the assured manner we are increasingly coming to expect, but other than that there was little positive to take from the first defeat of the season and five goals conceded in the first three games suggests the solution to last season's defensive woes is yet to be found.
Town: Davis, Diallo, Richards (Wilnis 60), De Vos, Naylor, Miller (Kuqi 72), Dinning, Horlock, Westlake, Bowditch (Couñago 60), Bent.
Photo: Action Images
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