Derby County fought back to knock out Hartlepool United
JUST as it looked like Derby were going to need a second chance at getting past Hartlepool, Darren Bent showed his value.
The striker netted his 200th club career goal with only three minutes remaining to leave Pools bemoaning a harsh defeat.
Bent, in truth, did little in the game. He was well shackled by centre-half Adam Jackson, on loan at Pools from Middlesbrough, but you can’t keep a good man down and he earned the Rams a spot in round four.
Boss Paul Clement purred: “Darren’s goal was his 200th at senior level, and it was a good one for him.When he plays he’s been hitting the woodwork, then he goes close with a diving header, and that goal will give him a boost. He looked dangerous.’’
Derby, second in the Championship, were given a tough task by Pools, who are floundering fourth bottom in League Two.
This had the feel of a proper FA Cup tie from the moment Michael Woods fizzed a second-minute shot over the bar. The second half was particularly open, with both sides going for it.
Bent was denied by Pools keeper Trevor Carson on 19 minutes, the first time the visitors threatened. Goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell, a Hartlepool teenager making his Rams bow, was happy to see a foul awarded after he spilled a cross under pressure from Scott Fenwick.
But as half-time approached, Clement’s side turned up the pressure. Nick Blackman, signed last week for £2.5m from Reading, was denied by Carson, who somehow kept the ball out despite diving away from it.
Then the striker, with 13 goals for Reading this season, had a shot diverted over. He then weakly went down claiming a penalty under a double challenge.
Pools should have tested Mitchell on 48 minutes. They moved the ball around the area well, but Jake Gray kicked thin air when presented with a chance.
Abdoul Camara, a £1.25m French recuit last week, thundered the crossbar.
Pools took the lead when Michael Woods charged forward on the left side with power and lifted the inviting cross to the penalty area for Gray to smash in from eight yards.
Victoria Park erupted and Pools were good value for their advantage.
However, it only lasted six minutes. Pools failed to deal with a ball on the edge of their penalty area and Jacob Butterfield, who had only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds, arrowed a crisp finish into the corner.
Pools pressed and almost regained the lead, Lewis Hawkins poking a shot over from 20 yards. Bent then went close with a thumping close-range header firmly kept out by Carson.
Scott Fenwick almost got on the end of a looping Brad Walker cross, but the Rams survived and broke away, Camara crossed, the ball deflected into Bent’s path and he made no mistake.
Clement said:“It’s good to be part of a game like that. A lower league team were really up for it and I’m glad the game went ahead.”
Pools boss Ronnie Moore admitted: “We didn’t really want a replay, but we deserved another crack at them.We have to take that performance and look at it – first-class.
“We’ve not played for three weeks and we worked on how they play and it’s good when it comes off for you. I can’t fault anyone, they all gave everything we asked.
“The sickener is they didn’t have to work hard for their goals.
“A good cup tie, and it was a wide-open second-half game.
“If we take that performance and quality into the League in the next few weeks we have no worries.’’
GRAY’S ANATOMY: Jake Gray twists his body to lash in Hartlepool’s opening goal