Miller time sparks Town revival

Derby County 2, Ipswich 2SECOND half strikes by Tommy Miller and Darren Bent saved town's blushes against lowly Derby at Pride Park.George Burley's side shocked the Blues with two goals in first half injury time.

By Dave Allard

Derby County 2, Ipswich 2

SECOND half strikes by Tommy Miller and Darren Bent saved town's blushes against lowly Derby at Pride Park.

George Burley's side shocked the Blues with two goals in first half injury time.

But Miller, who scored a penalty, and Bent, who was returning from injury, levelled the match for Ipswich.

Town were operating a 4-3-3 formation with Wright, outstanding in midfield of late, playing at right-back and Wilnis moving to the centre of defence.

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Ipswich were without suspended centre-half Richard Naylor and midfield man Chris Bart-Williams. Tommy Miller, who came on as a substitute against Gillingham and scored, was back in from the star.

John McGreal, the experienced defender who has had a string of injuries over the past nine months, was back on the substitutes bench.

After two minutes Taylor whipped over a cross from the right for Derby but the ball was caught well by Davis – the Town keeper who was so disappointed to have let in four goals last Saturday at home to Gillingham.

Town won a succession of corners early on and from the third, taken from the left by skipper Magilton, Kuqi almost got his head to the ball.

The Blues' left-back Richards then got forward and his centre took a sharp deflection off Mills before dropping into the arms of keeper Grant.

After eight minutes there was a big scare for Town, Huddlestone crossed and Johnson got in a header that had to be cleared off the line by Richards.

Soon after play switched to the other end and there was danger for Derby.

Bent, moving in from his right-sided attacking position, almost got onto the end of a lovely through ball by Westlake.

Soon after this, Bent, who was second top scorer with 18 goals last season, burst forward towards goal only for Grant to come out and block bravely.

It had been a lively opening to this match with both managers, ex-town boss Burley and current Blues chief Royle, having seen encouraging signs from their teams.

On 12 minutes Counago, Town's top marksman this season so far with nine goals, threaded through a lovely ball down the left for Richards to chase onto.

The teenage left-back whipped over a teasing cross from just ahead of the line.

Derby keeper Grant dealt with the situation well, dropping to his knees to take it as Kuqi moved in.

Wright drifted up field from his right-back berth to centre for Town but his cross was too deep.

At the other end Holmes crossed for Derby and there was danger as the ball passed just over the head of Town custodian Davis, but the ball was cleared up field comfortably.

Derby were having their moments, but it was Ipswich who were passing the ball around better.

The Blues were finding their men more comfortably than the home team but it was certainly an interesting contest between sides fighting different battles at either end of the table.

Wilnis was settling in well at centre-half beside Santos and, with 22 minutes gone, the Dutchman drew applause from the Ipswich fans behind the goal to the right of the stand.

Morris made a threatening run down the right but Wilnis came across to attend him well.

He made a solid challenge and then picked up the loose ball to play a crisp pass into midfield where Miller was waiting.

Soon after this Davis showed a clean pair of hands in the Ipswich goal. He dived to his right to catch hold of a firmly struck left foot drive by Morris.

Miller came back well to dispose Taylor and Wilnis was in the thick of the action for his side again.

The defender moved out to the left to get ahead of Huddlestone as the Derby teenager moved forward onto a pass from Mills.

One the half hour mark Counago went off with a nasty-looking leg injury.

There was quite a delay before Bowditch, the 17-year-old who scored twice for the reserves in midweek, could come on.

Richards pumped forward a long ball, which Kuqi took on his chest. The assistant referee flagged for offside from the line, much to the annoyance of the Finnish international.

With six minutes to go before the interval there was a major scare for Ipswich when Dichio missed a great chance.

Morris cut in from the right for Derby to go brilliantly past Wilnis.

He then he pulled a great ball back into the path of Dichio.

The big striker was in a great position to score but he shot over the bar.

And with some of the Pride Park crowd drifting off for an early cup of tea Holmes fired across goal from the left for Derby.

Wilnis then got his fourth booking of the season for kicking the ball away.

The fourth official held up his board to signal two minutes of time added on. These two minutes would prove disastrous for the Blues.

Town were hit when Derby took the lead with a fantastic long-range effort. KENNEDY curled in a stupendous free kick from 30 yards out.

As the referee was looking at his watch to end the first period the Rams scored again.

DICHIO raced through onto a long ball to pick his spot with a lovely strike that gave Davis no chance.

Taylor went in heavily on Magilton soon after the restart, both players struggled for a while, but were able to continue.

Then Kuqi, the on loan striker from Sheffield Wednesday with three goals to his name went in strongly looking for his fourth. He got in on a loose ball and moved in for a goal only for Derby keeper Grant to block him well.

Holmes was booked for a foul and as play continued Santos pumped a cross-field ball in the direction of Kuqi who tried to make ground but Holmes challenged him well. The ball then went to the other end of the field and Santos had to react smartly to play the ball back to Davis after a long ball from Kennedy.

Bowditch, the young striker who had come on for the injured Counago, earned a corner for Town with 52 minutes gone. Skipper Magilton drifted over a free kick but Mulwene headed away. Bowditch then played the ball in from the other side and this time Johnson cleared the danger for the Rams.

Despite Town being two goals down their fans kept chanting in support.

There was then a reward for them when MILLER pulled a goal back from the penalty spot. Westlake burst into the penalty area only to be pulled down by Mills and Miller made no mistake from the spot for what was his third goal of the season and his second in a week.

Ipswich were dominant and looking really confident after their goal.

There was a booking and Bent and Grant after a minor skirmish but there was nothing to deter the visitors as they kept going forward in search of an equaliser.

Wilnis pumped forward a ball and Bent tried his best with a glancing header but it did not trouble Grant.

Play then switched to the other end where Holmes tried to put Morris away only for the offside flag to be up.

Richards and Kuqi combined well to almost put Bowditch in.

Then, in the 64th minute, Town made it 2-2 when BENT scored his third goal of the season.

Makeshift right-back Wright moved down the right and he whipped over a sweetly executed cross with pace. Bent, who made his comeback today after a long-term knee injury, met the ball near the far post to head home. It was a great cross and a beautiful execution by teenager Bent.

What a come back it was by Town. Their supporters who kept behind them had been truly rewarded.

Holmes broke forward on 72 minutes on the left but he was squeezed out by Wright. Then Kennedy crossed well and Santos went down on his knees to head the ball away.

Derby won a corner on the left, which Kennedy took with his trusty left foot.

The ball flew over the goal and Huddlestone sent over a cross, which seemed to deceive everyone and strike the post. Derby had fired a warning.

But Town broke forward with Wright earning a corner on the right.

Magilton took it and the ball dropped loose with Bowditch turning to shoot over the bar.

In the 76th minute Magilton crossed and Kuqi waved his arms in apology to his skipper after only managing to get in a weak header.

Then Ipswich brought on substitute Armstrong.

A hat-trick hero for the Reserves in midweek, Armstrong took the place of first half substitute Bowditch as once again Royle traded a striker for a striker.

Soon after Armstrong's arrival he headed on a cross from Westlake for Kuqi to fire wide but then there was some pressure for Ipswich to sustain.

Costa fired over and then Taylor was not far off the mark. Derby boss Burley held his head in his hands at these two misses by his side.

Kuqi had not been able to turn some good positional play into a goal and with three minutes to go he shot wide again.

Both sets of supporters were on the edges of there seats as the match went into the closing spell.

Davis, the town keeper, leapt high to catch hold of a header from Taylor as Ipswich had to defend in depth now as Derby enjoyed a powerful spell.

With two minutes left Morris sent in a left foot shot across the face of goal. It had been certainly been an exciting game and both sides were finishing this game determined to get a winning goal.

Holmes crossed from the left for Derby but Davis caught well and soon after this Santo did well to knock the giant Dichio off the ball as the home side went forward again.

In time added on Ipswich brought on debutant teenage defender Mitchell for Kuqi.

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