Derby County endured ecstasy and agony in the space of three minutes at the KC Stadium, as Ahmed Elmohamady crushed the Rams’ hearts with an 88th minute winner, only moments prior to Jamie Ward’s dramatic equaliser.
Ward’s ninth goal in his 12th League start of the campaign looked to have secured a valuable point for the Rams, after Mohamed Gedo’s 47th minute had opened the scoring for the hosts.
However, Elmohamady rose highest to power home Robbie Brady’s in-swinging corner with just three minutes remaining in a frantic final 10 minutes, that also saw Gareth Roberts sent off for a late tackle.
Although the Rams found it challenging to penetrate the Hull City back-line when the teams met at Pride Park earlier in the season, Derby took just eight minutes to exploit a gap in the Tigers’ defence at the KC Stadium.
The first notable opportunity of the half arrived when Adam Legzdins
’ long ball up field found its way to Paul Coutts on the right hand side of the penalty area. The Scottish midfielder picked out the run of Conor Sammon with a beautifully flighted diagonal cross, but the recipient snatched at the pass and stabbed his half volley wide of David Stockdale’s near post.
The Rams had to remain patient for their chances as they tried to play their way through Hull’s rigid 3-5-2 formation, but almost found some joy when Craig Bryson cut in from the left and flashed a shot over the crossbar from the edge of the box, before some neat interplay between midfield trio Coutts, Will Hughes and Jeff Hendrick, led to the latter firing a cross narrowly over the head of the onrushing Jamie Ward.
The hosts retained possession for long periods, but despite their dominance with the ball, they rarely threatened and only carved out two chances in a subdued first-half, with Robert Koren and Stephen Quinn both seeing headers drift narrowly wide of goal.
With the home side’s lack of creativity in mind, Hull boss Steve Bruce made a double substitution at half-time, introducing Gedo and Nick Proschwitz for Robert Koren and Jay Simpson, and the Egyptian home debutant proved an instant hit with the Tigers’ supporters.
With just two minutes gone in the second period, Brady’s teasing left-wing cross flew towards the back post where Gedo was lurking, and the striker stood his ground before nodding the ball into the net from eight-yards out, leaving Legzdins planted.
The Rams’ misery was almost compounded prior to the hour mark, when Meyler was given time and space to manoeuvre the ball onto his left foot and curl an effort onto the post from 30-yards.
A minute later, Ward saw his swerving shot beaten away by Stockdale, before the former Sheffield United forward was the architect behind an exquisite cross from the left with the outside of his right foot.
Sammon plucked the ball out of the air prior to volleying against the underside of the crossbar.
With time running out, the Rams threw more men forward in search of an equaliser, and Clough’s side were duly rewarded for their perseverance, when Ward was left unmarked in the six-yard box to turn in Bryson’s cross in the 84th minute.
However, with just three minutes of normal time remaining there was still time for the Tigers to bite back. In a congested penalty area, Elmohamady headed Brady’s corner into the roof of the net to ensure the Rams would leave empty handed.
In a fractious final few minutes, defender Roberts was given his marching orders for a rash tackle on Proschwitz in the middle of the pitch, whilst the home side even had the luxury of spurning the easiest opportunity of the game in stoppage time, when the German striker inexplicably failed to convert from two yards out.
Derby County: Legzdins; Freeman (Robinson 80), Keogh, Brayford, Roberts; Coutts (Buxton 85), Hendrick, Hughes, Bryson; Sammon (Jacobs 73), Ward.
Subs not used: Fielding, Hoganson, Davies, Gjokaj.
Hull City: Stockdale; Elmohamady, Chester, Hobbs, McShane, Brady; Evans (Rosenior 90), Quinn, Meyler; Koren (Gedo 46); Simpson (Proschwitz 46).
Subs not used: Jakupovic, Cairney, Olofinjana, Fathi.