The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Ian Baker To com­ment on this match go to http://boards.footy­

LEE Clark’s team of strangers staged a late fight­back to earn a point against Derby with Fed­erico Macheda net­ting the equaliser de­spite meet­ing his team­mates only two-and-a-half hours be­fore kick-off.

The Manch­ester United loa­nee climbed off the bench to give Birm­ing­ham a barely de­served point af­ter they had been out­played by the visi­tors.

Macheda opted against a move to Serie A as he wanted to stay in Eng­land and he showed what a valu­able as­set he can be for Clark by scram­bling home as Derby threw away a 3-1 lead.

Fel­low United team­mates Tom Thorpe and Tyler Black­ett started along with Manch­ester City mid­fielder Emyr Huws while Aaron Martin came on as an early sub for Thorpe who in­jured his an­kle.

“It was a very young side with peo­ple just get­ting to know each other over the last cou­ple of days,” said Clark.

“Fed­erico did not meet his team­mates un­til 12.30pm, that’s why he started on the bench. He made a huge con­tri­bu­tion.

“Macheda’s a goal scorer, I got him in a stab in the dark as I was get­ting bounced all over.

“I got him right at the last minute, he had a huge club back in Italy to go to but wanted to stay in the UK.

“I talk about build­ing re­la­tion­ships and I try to do that with the big clubs around the coun­try.

“That’s the mar­ket we’re in. That’s the case with both Manch­ester United and Manch­ester City.

“We tried to work on a bit of shape but I ba­si­cally just said ‘you’re good play­ers, play to­gether’. I asked them to use the spirit they have got.

“My lads just said ‘let’s keep fight­ing’. They had a right good go and that was fan­tas­tic.”

Spir­ited though Birm­ing­ham were, they should never have got any­thing out of this game.

Derby dom­i­nated from the start and missed their third straight penalty on 36 min­utes with Dar­ren Ran­dolph eas­ily keep­ing out Craig Bryson’s ef­fort af­ter Will Hughes had been fouled by a poor chal­lenge from Black­ett.

Birm­ing­ham though stunned Derby mo­ments into the sec­ond half as Brian Howard’s tame header beat Lee Grant from Paul Cad­dis’ cross.

But Steve McClaren’s side turned on the style af­ter that with Pa­trick Bam­ford equal­is­ing a minute later, fir­ing home at the sec­ond at­tempt from the im­pres­sive Jamie Ward’s cross.

There was some good for­tune about Derby’s sec­ond as Chris Martin’s shot hit the back of Bryson’s head and beat a caughtout Ran­dolph. It now looked a ques­tion of how many McClaren’s men would score. A third ar­rived on 73 min­utes as Craig Forsyth buried his first goal for the club af­ter more good work by Ward.

But Chris Burke pulled one back on 78 min­utes with a shot from the edge of the area be­fore Macheda bun­dled in af­ter Huws’ ef­fort from Al­bert Rusnak’s cor­ner came back off the post.

“We should have won and won eas­ily and we’ve ended up draw­ing,” said an an­gry McClaren.

“It’s a harsh les­son for our team. At 3-1 we lost dis­ci­pline and we didn’t con­trol the game and just went for it. We could have won it four, five or six or 3-3 and it was the sec­ond one we got.

“We were vul­ner­a­ble our­selves, their sec­ond was an ab­so­lute disgrace.

“It’s about be­ing street­wise, know­ing how to win. You don’t have to win it five or six, just de­fend well.

“You’re never safe and our team has to learn.

“We should have won this very eas­ily. If you don’t do things right you oc­ca­sion­ally get bit­ten.We’ve been bit­ten good and proper.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

FIRST IM­PRES­SIONS: Fed­erico Macheda scores the late lev­eller for Birm­ing­ham

EQUALISER: Macheda cel­e­brates with team­mates

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