Tom Ince stepped off the substitutes’ bench to equalise as Derby County secured a 2-2 draw at Leeds United.

Tom Ince stepped off the substitutes’ bench to equalise as Derby County secured a 2-2 draw at Leeds United.

After Jeff Hendrick rounded off a superb patient move, the Whites fought back at Elland Road and turned the game on its head through Sol Bamba’s strike on the cusp of half time and Chris Wood’s firm header in the second half.

Ince, though, made an instant impact, clinically finishing across Marco Silvestri as Paul Clement’s side extended their unbeaten run to eight games and finished the calendar year in the Sky Bet Championship automatic promotion places.

Meetings between Leeds United and Derby are known for their fiery starts, but the Rams started at Elland Road with an air of calm and were happy to keep possession and pull the men in white from one side to the other.

After weathering an early spell of pressure in which Leeds pressed Derby high up the pitch, the visitors opened the scoring through a move of quality that would not go amiss at the very highest echelons of the game.

Following a prolonged spell of patient ball keeping, Derby unlocked the Leeds defence as Stephen Warnock, Captain for the evening, slipped a pass to Hendrick on the edge of the area.

After being allowed to waltz inside the box, the Republic of Ireland slipped away from Bamba before beating the onrushing Silvestri.

Following that, Tom Adeyemi, who was on target in the reverse fixture, headed over the crossbar from Sam Byram’s cross from the right, whilst Jacob Butterfield saw an effort well blocked after excellent work by the industrious Johnny Russell.

The one negative during this period of dominance was the sight of Jason Shackell prematurely departing in place of Ryan Shotton after the defender struggled to shake off a knock he sustained during a set piece.

As the clock ticked down, Hendrick tamely shot straight into the arms of Silvestri, whilst Adeyemi glanced another header wide from an inswinging Byram cross.

With the half seemingly petering out, however, Leeds struck to level on the cusp of half time.

From a set piece out on the left, Derby failed on numerous occasions to deal with the danger. Grant, caught in no man’s land, was saved by a sublime challenge to deny the hosts initially before another ball in could only be clawed into the path of Bamba to smash into the net.

Steve Evans’ side finished the first half well on top, but Derby came out in the second half and re-established their control, extinguishing the momentum Leeds had built up by their late strike.

Bradley Johnson fired well over the top of the crossbar, whilst Stuart Dallas drove an effort straight into the arms of Grant as the evenly contested meeting closed in on the hour mark.

Clement introduced Chris Martin, in place of Bent, to add a different dimension to his side’s attacking artillery and the Rams’ leading scorer soon teed up Andreas Weimann for a pot shot, but Scott Wootton superbly got his body in the way to turn his effort behind for a corner.

The Rams were just starting to get a grip of the contest, but were left having to fight back from a losing position as Leeds struck again.

The man with the sublime winner at the iPro Stadium, Wood, the New Zealand international, was the man to fire the hosts in front as he planted a header beyond Grant from Byram’s inch-perfect ball in from the right.

The lead last a mere seven minutes though. Clement immediately introduced Ince and the wideman had the desired effect within minutes, executing clinically across Silvestri after collecting Russell’s threaded pass.

The Rams remained on top and looked the more likely to claim all three points at Elland Road.

Russell eventually poked over the bar after Leeds failed to deal with a free kick and Hendrick saw another chance agonisingly deflected over Silvestri’s crossbar.

At the other end, Luke Murphy forced Grant into a save at his near post with a free kick in a frantic end to the encounter, but the Rams held on to claim another point on the road and extend their unbeaten run to eight games.

Leeds United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Byram (Phillips, 89), Adeyemi (Cook, 63), Bridcutt, Murphy, Dallas, Wood (Doukara, 75)

Substitutes not used: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bellusci, Antenucci

Derby County: Grant, Christie, Keogh, Shackell (Shotton, 36), Warnock (C), Johnson, Hendrick, Butterfield; Russell, Weimann (Ince, 76), Bent (Martin, 62)

Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Baird, Hanson, Thorne

Attendance: 23,027 (1,426 Derby supporters)

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