Derby pulled off an upset by winning at West Brom
IN DIFFERING ways, Tom Ince and Jason Shackell are forgotten men – but both gave a reminder of their abilities to help the Rams spring a shock at West Brom.
Top-scorer Ince is anything but forgotten at Derby, of course. But his winner here – a superb 25-yard free-kick – and overall display reminded onlookers he belongs in the top flight.
And at the other end, a man who has sat on the Rams bench most of the season, Shackell, led a superb rearguard effort to see out the upset and delight manager Steve McClaren.
The Derby boss said: “We know Tom’s got great ability and can finish. We allow him to go and play but he does the work as well, he gets up and down.
“He should be a Premier League player and you’ve seen him show here that he wants to get back there.
“He showed his quality but, as a team effort, especially the last 20 minutes, it was heroic.
“I’ve never seen so many balls going into the box – talk about defending for our lives, we certainly did that.
“Jason Shackell was immense, the ball seemed to be attracted to his head!
“He has had to watch the team keep clean sheets and break records but I told him he would get an opportunity and to be ready. He certainly was.”
Shackell’s defensive partner Richard Keogh bailed out his keeper Scott Carson early on, clearing off the line after the stopper’s awful pass gifted the ball to Salomon Rondon.
The only time either centrehalf put a foot wrong was when the Baggies took a 35th-minute lead.
Keogh delayed a clearance too long, it was blocked by James McClean and fell for Matt Phillips to find the bottom corner from 20 yards.
James Morrison should have doubled the lead two minutes later but blazed over from 15 yards after fine wing play from Phillips.
It looked bleak for Derby – second-lowest scorers in the Championship despite sitting seventh – but they turned the game on its head with two stunning 25-yard strikes in three minutes after the break.
Darren Bent’s rocket found the top corner to bring them level before Ince’s free-kick nestled in the opposite bottom corner soon after.
Albion almost levelled as Craig Dawson’s back-post header hit the upright from a Phillips corner.
But Derby twice came close to a third, Boaz Myhill superbly thwarting Ince’s dipping 25yard strike and Bent’s close-range shot on the turn as the Rams pressed.
Albion piled on the pressure late on, Salomon Rondon glancing one header wide and seeing another turned over by Carson’s fingertips, but the Rams defended admirably to secure a spot in round four.
Frustrated Baggies boss Tony Pulis said: “I thought we did enough not to lose. My players played well and gave it everything.
“We’ve battered them at times – 60 crosses we put in, nearly 30 shots.
“All the stats show that we had a right go but in cup football you need the breaks and a little bit of luck.
“It didn’t really drop for us in the final third and Derby defended heroically, you can’t take that away from them.”
DANGEROUS DAZ: Darren Bent celebrates scoring Derby’s equaliser with Tom Ince