RAMS REBUFFED THANKS TO FRANK Robins hang on and net leveller
BRISTOL City goalkeeper Frank Fielding thwarted his old club with a second-half supershow on his recall to the team.
Having spent most of the year recovering from injury, the former Derby goalkeeper made one-on-one saves from James Wilson, Matej Vydra and substitute Darren Bent, with his team committed to attack in the second half.
And, with Derby unable to build on the first-half lead supplied by Ikechi Anya, City substitute Aaron Wilbraham converted Bobby Reid’s low cross deep into stoppage time to earn an unlikely point.
Fielding’s efforts did not go unappreciated by his team-mates as Robins head coach Lee Johnson revealed afterwards.
He said: “Someone said well done to Frank in the dressing room afterwards and there was a spontaneous round of applause from the players.
“They all love him because he is so supportive even when things are not going well for him personally. He has had a difficult year recovering from injury, but looked back to his best.
“I could not be more pleased for him. Richard O’Donnell has done great for us, but I felt that the time was right for a change in goal.
“Aaron Wilbraham is another player the whole squad respect. He polices the dressing room with his stature and remains an important member of the squad.
“His equaliser was so important because had we lost it might have been regarded as a mini-slump. The players looked a bit leggy after a tough week but kept going to the very end.”
Derby took a 44th-minute lead when Aden Flint’s weak header backwards allowed Anya to lift the ball over the stranded Fielding.
It has not been a great period for the big centre-half, who conceded an own-goal in the previous weekend’s 2-2 draw at Rotherham.
Johnson said: “Aden is a great lad and will come again. He needs to get back to basics and get his mind right.”
Lee Tomlin rocked the crossbar with a late volley as City threw even Flint forward and applied heavy late pressure.
But Derby should have been home and dry by then and boss Nigel Pearson had good cause to feel frustrated.
He said: “The reality is that it is a very big opportunity lost for us. They weren’t halfchances we created, but very clear ones and we have spurned them at 1-0 up.
“When that happens it just takes a lucky break or a bit of good play with the opposition throwing extra men forward and we paid the penalty.
“You could see by the players’ reaction at full-time, how disappointed they were. We continue to stutter as a direct result of not converting the chances we are making.
“We have good players and to be fair to the lads we have had some very good performances over the last few games.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted, but you can’t spend too much time beating yourselves up about it. The chances fell to the players I would have wanted them to fall to.”
Anya fell heavily on his chest when scoring Derby’s goal and was substituted in the second half, while City lost wing-back Joe Bryan to injury after half an hour.
It was a below-par display by the hosts and Derby should have punished them. But it was Fielding’s day.
EQUALISER: Aaron Wilbraham nets Bristol City’s goal Inset: Hordur Magnusson fires in a free-kick
STAR MAN FRANK FIELDING Bristol City