Writer: Steve Guscott
Date:Saturday December 18 2010
18th December 2010
Shane Long headed an 88th minute winner at Pride Park to end the Royals run of five successive draws. The striker had opened the scoring in the first half after he won and converted a penalty but Kris Commons looked to have earned Derby a point before Long connected with Jobi McAnuff`s deep cross to win the game.
The fans who battled through the terrible conditions arrived at Pride Park to see Brian McDermott name an unchanged side, something of a surprise after a drab goalless draw with Coventry last weekend. However we started well and Long was leading the line and looking a threat but it was the home side who went closest in the opening stages when they hit the inside of the post.
Jobi McAnuff and Mikele Leigertwood went very close with efforts from distance before we were thankful to keeper Adam Federici for keeping us level. The Aussie was no doubt delighted with the efforts of his countrymen only hours earlier during the third Ashes test and he produced two world class saves. Firstly he denied Stephen Pearson following a deflected free kick and then kept out a strike from on loan West Brom striker Luke Moore.
Derby were made to rue those missed chances when before the break Long broke into the area and was brought down by Shaun Barker. The home fans were unhappy at the award of a spot kick but Long dusted himself down and struck it brilliantly into the top corner.
The Rams introduced Robbie Savage at the break but it was the Royals who continued to pressure and Noel Hunt was denied by a finger tip save from Stephen Bywater. The striker burst into the area and his effort with the outside of the right boot was destined for the bottom corner but the keeper somehow got a fingertip to it and turned it round the post.
Long then got the better of Barker again in the corner and was brought down, and whilst we got the free kick the defender was lucky not to have picked up a second yellow card. From the free kick Long headed against the bar and over.
Against the run of play though Derby levelled and it was from danger man Kris Commons. A great cross came in from the right hand side and the winger had a free header at the far post. That gave the home side the confidence to push on and try to win and the game and it was only because of a wonderful save from Federici that we were not behind. He denied Moore from close range with an amazing save, the best of the lot from the keeper and Royals man of the match.
It was an end to end game and sub Simon Church had a great chance just minutes after coming on but his poor effort was saved by Bywater but the Welsh striker really should have done better with a unmarked effort from around the penalty spot.
As the game looked to petering out for a draw, McAnuff picked the ball up on the right and hit a long hopeful cross towards Long in the area. Bywater came out but Long was brave and he beat the former West Ham keeper to the ball and headed the winner. It was Long`s 7th goal against Derbv in 3 (+4) games against the Rams - if only he was as deadly against other teams!
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Date:Saturday December 18 2010
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