NAIVE RAMS BLOW LATE LEAD
Injury-time collapse has angry McClaren raging
IT WAS a question that both managers failed to be able to answer properly: how on earth did Derby not win this?
At 2-0 up going into injury time courtesy of Jamie Ward and Tom Ince goals, Steve McClaren’s side were going back to the top of the Championship after another professional display.
Then they gave away a penalty that Paul Caddis scored before Clayton Donaldson scrambled in a dramatic 96th-minute leveller that handed Birmingham an unjust point.
And it was a result that could have serious repercussions in regard to Derby’s Premier League dream.
“I think it’s a double mugging,” said McClaren. “We only have ourselves to blame. We’ve thrown away two points.
“The game is 95 minutes not 92 minutes and you need to see the game through. We were naive and were punished.
“We were 2-0 up with two minutes to go and you should see the game through.
“We didn’t and there is a lot of anger. We have to calm down and keep stable but this will take a couple of days to get over.
“This game kicks you in the teeth. We need to man up and get on with it.”
Referee Iain Williamson was open to criticism but McClaren refused to make him responsible for the result, despite playing nearly seven minutes of stoppage time when only three were indicated.
“I couldn’t understand his refereeing all afternoon to be honest,” he added.“But I could complain all day, it was an unnecessary penalty and an unnecessary free-kick and you’re under pressure.
“It was a freak result but we can’t blame the referee. He was poor and made some strange decisions but that’s no excuse.”
Birmingham had not had a single shot on target until second-half stoppage time as Derby produced another outstanding display up until that point.
The impressive Will Hughes set up the 26th-minute opener for Ward. He found Johnny Russell whose curler was saved by Darren Randolph, but Ward put in the rebound via the post for his first goal since September.
Derby chances kept coming with Hughes’ 25-yarder coming back off the bar. Jeff Hendrick then went close with two other chances before the break.
Birmingham boss Gary Rowett was involved in an altercation with Derby’s league debutant Raul Albentosa as the players went off at the break, after being angry that Johnny Russell kicked a drop ball into the corner.
“I shouldn’t have walked over but there was no issue,” Rowett said.
“It was ungentlemanly behaviour from him and that’s why I was so incensed. But I can’t lose my cool, it was a bit of handbags. It was no problem and I apologise for my actions.”
The game should have been up for Birmingham when Ince scored his sixth in eight games with a fine piece of trickery on the edge of the area three minutes into the second half.
Russell was then denied a third on the line from Hendrick’s cross. But unbelievably Derby collapsed in the dying stages.
Ince brought down Robert Tesche with Caddis converting the penalty before Birmingham threw the kitchen sink at their hosts.
Randolph went up with Wes Thomas who hooked the ball back for Donaldson to bundle in.
“If I was Steve I would be frustrated as they are a terrific side,” admitted Rowett.
“I thought they worked very hard to stop us and that looked the difference. It looked like the game was over at 2-0.
“But when we put them under pressure you can see there looked like being something for us.
“Whether we deserve it or not is irrelevant. But we kept going.
“If you’re a Derby fan or player you will be hugely disappointed.”
FEELING BLUE: Birmingham City scramble in a last-gasp equaliser deep in injury time
COMEBACK: Paul Caddis scores from the spot to start Birmingham’s resurgence
INCE PERFECT: Tom Ince slots home Derby’s second goal