McCLAREN’S REACHING FOR A DRINK
DERBY would surely like to be putting in solid, undramatic performances as they gear up for their play-off campaign, but they did just the opposite in this breathless encounter.
This season’s league games between Huddersfield and Derby have yielded 13 goals, and Steve McClaren will be hoping there is just something about the Terriers.
The Rams boss said: “Has anyone got a drink?
“Crazy game. We’re certainly putting the Derby fans through the mire at the present moment. They don’t know what they’re going to get.
“The plus is the goals and the quality that we’ve got, the fight and character. The thing to work on is conceding too many goals.
“We’re kind of crawling our way over the line and not making it easy for ourselves and certainly not making it easy for our fans but we never said it was going to be easy when we came.
“If they want excitement they’re certainly getting that. For the neutral it was a great game, for coaches it was a nightmare, and for Derby fans it was the highs and lows of being a supporter.”
Derby lost two players to injury in the first half, with midfielder Craig Bryson and then defender Zak Whitbread limping off.
But they managed to take the lead between those knocks, with Tom Ince hammering into Alex Smithies’ top corner moments after going close with a free kick.
Oscar Gobern equalised with his first goal in three years, despite Rams skipper Richard Keogh’s insistence that Gobern handled Conor Coady’s through ball.
Terriers captain Mark Hudson met Reece James’ corner with a downward header to make it 2-1, having bagged his only other Huddersfield goal in the reverse fixture in November.
James whipped in another corner in the second minute of injury time, and was elated when the ball flew straight in past Derby keeper Lee Grant.
That was the second goal scored direct from a corner at the John Smith’s Stadium in four weeks following a similar goal by Fulham’s Alex Kacaniklic on 21st March.
Derby were back into contention on 52 minutes as substitute Simon Dawkins flicked Stephen Warnock’s cross past Smithies.
Nahki Wells thought he had restored the two goal cushion five minutes later, but after converting the rebound off Ishmael Miller’s strike, he was ruled offside.
So Derby were back level on 61 minutes when Jesse Lingard’s 18-yard toe-poke crept inside Smithies’ post.
Wells added Town’s fourth, his deflected effort looped into an unguarded net after a great run from Scannell and aborted efforts from Miller and Jacob Butterfield.
But Derby were not done yet and Ince scored his tenth from 16 games from range 11 minutes from time.
Town had another strike ruled out in injury time, with Miller flagged offside after tucking away another rebound.
Huddersfield manager Chris Powell said: “Derby I’ve got to say are clinical, my keeper technically didn’t have a save to make, so for it to be 4-4, it’s some game.
“The big turning point was a ball-in-the-face save from Grant from Nahki Wells that would have made it 4-1 and I don’t think there would have been much coming back from that.
“It was some game. We had goals disallowed as well, and we more than matched a side that could be playing in the Premier League.
“Our unbeaten run continues, which is important to us. People may level that there’s nothing to play for at the end of the season.
“But we’re certainly showing our fans something different.”
HAVE SOME OF THAT: Thomas Ince slots home to draw Derby County level for the second time at 4-4. Inset: Oscar Gobern slots home from close range