CAPTAIN MORGAN’S RUM DO FOR RAMS
Header late on denies County
STEVE MCCLAREN spoke of his pride after Derby earned an FA Cup fourth round replay against Premier League champions Leicester.
The Rams were denied a scalp as Wes Morgan’s late header secured a draw in a pulsating East Midlands derby on Friday night.
Darren Bent’s evening started miserably as he opened the scoring with a comical own goal, only to net at the right end just minutes later.
Craig Bryson put the home side ahead five minutes before half-time but as the clock ticked down Morgan saved Leicester’s blushes.
And despite the late heartbreak Derby boss McClaren was still delighted with his side’s efforts.
McClaren said: “We’re disappointed that we didn’t win but I’m so proud of my players. We wanted to give them a good game in front of the cameras, and under the lights.
“We were up against a Leicester side that was at it. We had a slow start but we gradually grew into the game.
“Nobody wanted a draw at the end but we went for it and got a replay.
“This has taught me we have great character. The team dug in when they had to, and against a damn good team, and nearly beat them.
“We must take heart from that.”
Leicester took the lead after just eight minutes and in comical fashion when former England striker Bent somehow managed to slice the ball into his own net from a Leicester corner to give the Foxes plenty to shout about. However, in a brilliant and deserved twist of fate, Bent proceeded to equalise on 21 minutes with a looping header from a Will Hughes cross.
Bryson then picked up the ball 25 yards out, weaved into the box and fired past Kasper Schmeichel to propel Derby in front before the interval.
Half-time Leicester substitute Demarai Gray saw his shot cannon back off a post before Scott Carson pulled off a brilliant double save to keep out Shinji Okazaki.
Johnny Russell then inexplicably missed the goal from a few yards out and that was duly punished when Morgan nodded home with three minutes left to seal a replay at the King Power Stadium.
Despite City failing to hit the heights of last season, Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri said the side still possesses the necessary battling qualities – ones they needed against a tough Derby outfit.
“It was a tough match,” the Italian said. “We started well and scored but slowly we lost our calm. They played well and scored twice.
“In the second half we again started well and created two or three chances. It was tough to score but thankfully Morgan got one for us. We have to concentrate. Too many times we concede. We can only work and be more focused.
“I’m satisfied because we knew that this would be a tough match.”
“We started very well, scored the goal and then suddenly they came at us. We then got nervous.
“In the second half we started better and created chance after chance but the ball didn’t want to go in for us.
“Finally we scored and I think we deserved to get the replay.
“It’s important that we fight and the attitude of the players is fantastic.”
SO CLOSE: Alex Pearce dejected after Wes Morgan’s late equaliser, inset