Kasey Palmer scored a stoppage time equaliser as Derby County’s promotion push hit another blow; as Leeds United held them to an entertaining draw at Pride Park.
Derby manager Gary Rowett made two changes from the team which lost to Sheffield Wednesday, with Marcus Olsson and Tom Lawrence coming in for Craig Forsyth and former Leeds midfielder Bradley Johnson. In contrast Leeds made six changes to the team which drew with Bristol City on Sunday. Key player Samuel Saiz returned from a six-match ban for the game, but manager Paul Heckingbottom opted to start him on the bench.
Lawrence was looking to reward his managers faith, but fired over from range, before Derby captain Richard Keogh was forced to block Pablo Hernandez’s goal bound effort. The early stages off the game were overshadowed by the brilliant atmosphere generated by both set of fans. Leeds fans thought they had something to cheer about when Stuart Dallas found space in the Derby box, but he sliced his volley over.
This led to Derby applying pressure to the hosts and nearly resulted in the opening goal. Lawrence’s corner was flicked on by Matej Vydra across the Leeds goal, but Tom Huddlestone was unable to make contact and the ball went wide. Lawrence once again put in a superb cross to David Nugent at the back post, but the striker’s diving header went wide.
Derby continued to press for the goal, with Huddlestone’s through ball sending Andreas Weimann through; with the Austrian lobbing the ball over Leeds keeper Felix Wiedwald, but also over the bar.
This move proved crucial as Leeds soon took the lead. Pierre-Michel Lasogga was left unmarked in the Derby box to meet Dallas’s cross and head home his tenth goal of the season. Despite this, the visitors remained very defensive.
Just before half-time Lawrence nearly breached their defence, but his strike hit the bar, as Leeds survived. Derby did equalise before half-time though. A defensive mix up lead to Weimann once again going through, with the forward making amends for his earlier miss.
Leeds manager Heckingbottom opted to bring on Saiz soon after the break in an attempt to add creativity his side were lacking in the first half. However, this failed to work with both teams seeing each other out resulting in few chances.
That was until the 63rd minute where a mistake from Laurens De Bock, led to the ball falling to Lawrence on the edge of the box; but his shot was saved by Wiedwald.
The visitors nearly restored there lead soon after. Derby failed to deal with a corner allowing Hernandez to find defender Liam Cooper; but he header over the bar.
Eventually both managers tried to change the game by bringing on fresh legs. Palmer came on for the home side, while Ezgjan Alioski came on for the visitors. This changed worked for Leeds as Alioski gave them the lead.
Saiz led a quick counter attack before playing in the striker. His initial shot was saved by Scott Carson, but he headed the re-bound into the empty net.
Derby pushed forward for an equaliser but failed to create any real chances. However, just as they did in first half stoppage time, they equalised again; with Palmer poking home his first goal for the club from a corner.
The late equaliser means that Derby fall five points behind Cardiff, who defeated Ipswich Town. It also means Rowett’s side have not won in three games, as their promotion push suffered another dent. The point moves Leeds up to 11th and means Heckingbottom still has yet to win as Leeds manager. However, he will be pleased with his side’s performance, especially the second half.
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