Cut-price Blues keep Rams on the run
BIRMINGHAM again matched one of the league’s richest sides giving boss Gary Rowett onfidence his cut-price squad have first-rate potential.
Stephen Gleeson’s first goal for the Blues put the hosts ahead just before the interval as his 30-yard strike deflected off Chris Baird to dart beyond Rams keeper Scott Carson.
Yet Birmingham failed to replicate their firsthalf intent as Derby’s attacking talents started to click, with Tom Ince providing a deft pass for Johnny Russell to equalise shortly after the hour.
Darren Bent and Andreas Weimann both hit the woodwork, while Chris Martin was booked for simulation after going down in the area, but the Blues held on to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
“Derby might be disappointed with the amount of chances they have had overall, but we should have scored through Jon Toral early in the second half,” said Rowett.
“I'm not disappointed with a point. Look at how far we’ve progressed from last year, when Derby came here and battered us 4-0.
“I don’t like to use money as a reasoning but look at Burnley, they’ve just bought another striker Andre Gray for £9m, Derby have a centre-half on the pitch in Jason Shackell and they have paid £3m or £4m for him.
“We’ve got a team of free transfers and someone’s pocket money and we’re more than matching teams. In some ways that’s winning for us but we want more.”
In a lively first half, Demarai Gray twice went close while Bent dragged a simple chance wide and Ince’s 25-yard drive rebounded off the upright before Gleeson struck in injury time.
Arsenal loanee Toral then failed to turn in Carson’s parry from Clayton Donaldson’s shot and Derby pounced moments later.
Ince feinted past his marker to slide in Russell, who fired past Tomasz Kuszczak into the roof of the net for his second goal in as many games. Referee Lee Mason then showed Martin a yellow card after the striker was brushed by Jonathan Spector in the area, to Clement’s ire, but the former Real Madrid assistant believes his side will soon improve on their slightly inauspicious start.
“I don't think a win's too far away if we keep playing the way we are,” said Clement.
“We were the team more disappointed not to come away with three points as we had more chances. And we should have had a penalty when Chris Martin went over in the box.”
STAR MAN TOM INCE Derby