Johnny Russell scored his second goal in three days as Derby County maintained their unbeaten start to the new Sky Bet Championship season with a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City.

Johnny Russell scored his second goal in three days as Derby County maintained their unbeaten start to the new Sky Bet Championship season with a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City.

The Scottish forward rifled past Tomasz Kuszczak just after the hour mark to cancel out Stephen Gleeson’s wicked opener on the stroke of half time at St Andrew’s.

The result meant the Rams drew their fourth successive fixture of the new 2015/16 season and will go into next weekend’s meeting with Leeds United still looking for their first win under Paul Clement.

Sporting a new formation, Derby started slowly in front of the Sky Sports cameras as Birmingham started with purpose and intent, pressing the Rams deep into their own half.

Twice Scott Carson came to the rescue to keep the contest goalless – first from Demarai Gray’s sweet volley from Clayton Donaldson’s knock down, before making an instinctive save to block the latter’s header from Gleeson’s pinpoint cross.

Arsenal loanee Jon Toral volleyed over two minutes later and that proved to be the end of the early storm as Clement’s side began to take control of the contest.

Inside five minutes, Darren Bent, making his first league start, had three chances – the first a left foot shot from inside the area, which he should have done better with, before he flicked a header over the bar from Forsyth’s teasing centre.

Tom Ince, after dispossessing Cotterill from a half cleared corner, saw a low left foot drive parried by Kuszczak, before the wideman saw another fierce drive cannon off the post with the home side’s ‘keeper well beaten.

After such an energetic start in front of the Sky Sports cameras, the game descended into a battle with both midfield and defences coming out on top.

Gray’s drive from range was well saved by Carson and with the first half looking like it was going to finish the way it started, Birmingham struck and made the visitors pay for not taking their opportunities.

From range, Gleeson tried a speculative effort that took a significant off Chris Baird, the Captain, before flying into the near corner of Carson’s goal.

Buoyed by the late strike, Gary Rowett’s side starting the second half brighter with Gray, again, featuring prominently in Blues’ attacking play.

The 19-year-old saw an early drive saved by Carson and after Derby rediscovered their rhythm, Kuszczak’s goal came under threat.

Craig Forsyth, who had scored on his previous two trips to St Andrew’s, saw a dipping strike beaten away, before Ince’s teasing effort from the right was gathered by the former Wolves’ keeper.

With the hour mark approaching, Donaldson saw another drive saved by Carson, before Toral knocked the rebound wide of goal – a missed chance that proved costly as Derby struck back.

Ince did the good work in the middle – turning away from an incoming challenge with a neat turn – before releasing a pass into the feet of Russell to slam a high effort into the back of the net.

The Rams took control and minutes after Andreas Weimann was introduced, the Austrian forward scuffed a shot on to the post, but the Blues held out and kept Derby at bay.

With fresher legs, Rowett’s side finished the stronger in a ding-dong affair, but neither side could find the elusive winner to cap off an entertaining night at St Andrew’s.

Birmingham City: Kuszczak, Grounds, Kieftenbeld, Gray, Gleeson, Donaldson, Cotterill (Maghoma, 67), Toral (Shinnie, 67), Spector, Morrison, Caddis

Substitutes not used: Legzdins, Eardley, Robinson, Thomas, Davis

Derby County: Carson, Christie (Shotton, 81), Keogh, Shackell, Forsyth; Ince, Baird (C), Thorne, Russell; Martin, Bent (Weimann, 64)

Substitutes not used: Grant, Dawkins, Pearce, Calero, Warnock

Attendance: 18,134 (2,156 Derby supporters)

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