One of the last men off of the pitch ahead of kick-off in Derby County’s 2-2 draw against Leeds United at Pride Park, most would have thought current assistant manager, Kevin Phillips, was keen to tie up his laces and lead the line for the Rams.
The legendary forward hung up his boots at the conclusion of the 2013/14 season after assisting Leicester City’s charge back to the Premier League after a ten year absence. The ex-Sunderland and Southampton striker scored three goals that campaign, echoing back to the days of his former glories.
That is exactly what the diminutive striker was doing during the warm-up on Wednesday evening, allowing for the occasional scuffed shot that simply span up into the arms of Kelle Roos.
Finishing touch lacking in opening period
The composure that he showed throughout his career on countless occasions was badly lacking from his current team in the first-half as Tom Huddlestone nudged wide from only yards out after a corner. Ex-England forward David Nugent was also guilty of spurning a wonderful opportunity as he sent a diving header wide from Tom Lawrence’s cross.
Former Aston Villa forward Andreas Weimann also did well to race beyond the Whites’ defence but could only lift the ball over the bar.
Leeds were to profit from the Rams’ wastefulness as Pierre-Michel Lasogga opened the scoring against the run of play as he headed home a Stuart Dallas cross.
Phillips’ predatory instincts channelled by Weimann
The Rams’ lack of cutting edge continued until the break as Lawrence sent a thundering effort onto the crossbar from the edge of the area.
Weimann though, who had only scored three goals so far before the game, equalised for the hosts. Anticipating a poor header from Liam Cooper, the Austrian collected the ball and slotted home in the final minute of the first-half. It almost echoed the amount of times that his mentor, Phillips had used that exact method to find the net in years gone by.
The former England international netted 282 throughout his long career but was restricted to his place on the bench against Leeds United. He also played a key part in four promotions in that time, a statistic that the Rams will surely look to use as they hunt for their place in the Premier League.
Killer touch deserts the Rams but late drama secures point
Phillips held the title of an out-and-out goalscorer throughout the majority of his career. David Nugent meanwhile, was showing his age at Pride Park. More good work from Weimann saw him presented with a wonderful opportunity as the ball was cut back. The ex-Leicester man was only able to scoop his effort well wide.
Again, Leeds were to punish the hosts after a period of domination. Substitute Ezgjan Alioski raced away from the Rams’ defence but only put his shot straight at Scott Carson. The rebound fell back to the Macedonian and he headed the ball home.
There was time for more late drama however as another substitute Kasey Palmer snatched a point for the hosts. Following pinball in the Leeds area, the on-loan Chelsea man stuck-out a leg to steer the ball home.
It was an evening of distinct what-ifs for Derby County. How they would have loved to have called upon the striking talents of Kevin Phillips in this frustrating clash. Their character to snatch a late winner must not be doubted however.
The Rams’ were increasingly wasteful all evening and as a result, their promotion charge has now taken a huge blow. Rowett’s troops now have only one win in their last six games ahead of Saturday’s game against Reading.
Meanwhile, it seemed as though Leeds had the lethal frontman that the hosts so craved. The Whites were under pressure throughout the evening put finished when the chances presented themselves. Heckingbottom will be frustrated that they did not manage to hold out for a victory.
Derby County: Carson (6); Baird (7), Keogh (6), Davies (7), Olsson (6); Lawrence (7) (Palmer (7), 76′), Huddlestone (8), Ledley (7) (Johnson (N/A), 80′), Weimann (); Vydra (7), Nugent (6) (Jerome (6), 68′).
Leeds United: Wiedwald (6); De Bock (6), Cooper (6), Jansson (7), Berardi (7); Vieira (6), Forshaw (7), Dallas (7); Hernandez (7) (Alioski (7), 76′), Roofe (5) (Saiz (6), 55′), Lasogga (7).
Goals: Lasogga (34′), Weimann (45+2′), Alioski (79′)
Referee: Keith Stroud
Yellow Cards: Vieira (39′)
Red Cards: N/A
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