Derby County fought back for the second time in four days against Middlesbrough as a meeting between two of the early season promotion favourites finished 1-1 at the iPro Stadium.

Derby County fought back for the second time in four days against Middlesbrough as a meeting between two of the early season promotion favourites finished 1-1 at the iPro Stadium.

Spanish forward Kike scored early on to give Boro the lead and for large spells of the contest, the Rams were left frustrated by a red brick wall.

Johnny Russell, though, with two minutes remaining, leathered in a late equaliser to breach the visitors’ backline and ensured that Derby maintained their unbeaten start to the season.

With a bowl of noise engulfing them, Derby started on the front foot, passing the ball around with energy, imagination and vigour as they pulled Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough across the park.

The home side’s work off the ball was equally as impressive – not allowing their Teesside opponents a moment to draw breath and such a start usually brings with it early opportunities.

That proved to be the case. Neat feet from Jeff Hendrick opened up space in the middle and after the Republic of Ireland midfield got the return from Tom Ince, his fizzing drive was beaten away by Dimi Konstantopoulos.

Despite their good start, Clement’s side found themselves having to fight back again, though.

George Friend did all the hard work down the left, cutting inside Chris Baird and marauding into the area, before his scuff shot fell into the path of Kike to finish across Scott Carson.

The Spanish forward had the chance to double the lead three minutes later, but his header from a left wing cross dropped narrowly wide as Boro upped the pressure on the Rams.

Grant Leadbitter, the Captain, sent a teasing free kick agonisingly close as well, whilst at the other end, Chris Martin headed well over from Stephen Warnock’s deep cross.

Derby were dealt a further two blows before the half time interval, not in terms of the scoreline, but their squad as both Jamie Hanson and Hendrick were forced off and were replaced by Ryan Shotton and Johnny Russell.


With four minutes of added time shown at the end of the first half, Ince saw a free kick from the edge of the area pushed away by Konstantopoulos to cap off a frustrating first half for Clement and his men.

Though Derby came out the stronger after the break, Boro remained resolute and limited the hosts to scraps in front of goal with their solid 4-2-3-1 formation.

Karanka’s side also remained a threat on the break, though, and Albert Adomah fluffed his lines from a central position, whilst Kike saw a drive from a tight angle tipped over by Carson.

For all their passing and persistence, Derby’s best chance for an equaliser came from a set piece with seven minutes remaining.

Johnny Russell whipped an outswinging corner to the near post where Martin won his header, but even when the Boro backline was finely breached, Konstantopoulos was on hand to claw the ball off the line.

With two minutes remaining, though, and with the hosts throwing everything at Karanka’s men, Russell leathered an effort following a long diagonal into the box through the legs of Konstantopoulos – the first goal that Boro have conceded this season – to claim a share of the spoils.

Derby County: Carson, Baird (C), Keogh, Shackell, Warnock; Thorne, Hanson (Shotton, 36), Hendrick (Russell; Ince, Weimann (Bent, 72), Martin

Substitutes not used: Grant, Forsyth, Dawkins, Pearce

Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos (GK), Friend, Ayala, Gibson, Leadbitter (C), Clayton, Kike (Stuani, 77), Downing, Kalas, Adomah, Fabbrini (Reach, 74)

Substitutes not used: Meijas (GK), Stephens, Nsue, Forshaw, Nugent

Attendance: 30,855 (2,237 Middlesbrough fans)


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