Bowyer makes his mark

Derby County 3 Sturridge 77, 88, Simpson 78 Leeds United 3 Laursen 19 (og), Harte 72, Bowyer 85 Attendance: 17,927
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The Independent Online
Derby County's arrival to trade blows with the mighty produced a spectacle for the Baseball Ground's first Premiership game that was certainly eventful, if hardly memorable. Reeling from an 18th-minute own goal, the Rams were blowing hard to get back on level terms until the last 20 minutes exploded into an orgy of goals - five in all, and two of them coming within 60 seconds of each other.

With what amounts to a new team, Leeds must have been as apprehensive of the new season as their opponents. Here they bloodied four of their latest arrivals and the youngest, Lee Bowyer, had the pleasure of scoring one goal and making another.

Lee Sharpe started aggressively down the visitors' left flank, coaxed and well supplied by the precocious Bowyer, but faded long before the end. Ian Rush had a hand in Bowyer's goal, but still has to bed himself in, while goalkeeper Nigel Martyn had an impressive debut marred only by a touch of bad luck which cost one of the goals he conceded.

Sharpe had returned the compliment to Bowyer with a delicate through- ball in the 18th minute and when the youngster broke down the left to slip a tantilising pass across the face of the Derby goal, Jacob Laursen was stretched to the limit to make an interception only to divert the ball beyond his own goalkeeper Russell Hoult.

Derby's Croatian recruit Aljosa Asanovic had already been taken to the Baseball Ground's heart before a ball had been kicked. Marked down as a source of danger by Leeds, Mark Ford had been deputed to mark him closely, a task he undertook with such vigour that it only took the Leeds defender 27 minutes to get himself booked for his not too successful labours. Despite his opponent's determination to restrict his manoeuvring, Asanovic was always a threat.

Leeds' strategy seemed to have paid off, though, when Ian Harte - a 62nd- minute substitute for the injured Brian Deane - strode on to a Bowyer pass and smacked Leeds' second beyond the diving Hoult. That, it seemed, was that until the Derby manager, Jim Smith, called upon his full compliment of substitutes to enter the fray.

Laursen, Darryl Powell, and Marco Gabbiadini were replaced by Ron Willems, Sean Flynn and Paul Simpson - and within minutes it was working. Dean Sturridge's aggressive pace and ability to annoy defenders to distraction had been misspent thus far. Then, in the 78th minute, he exploded a right- foot volley high past Martyn.

Straight from the restart, Richard Jobson was tapping an under-hit pass back toward his new goalkeeper when Simpson's fresh legs took up the chase. He collided with the Leeds goalkeeper just inside the box and with both spread-eagled on the ground the ball bobbled the remaining 10 yards to cross the goal-line for the equaliser.

But there were still six minutes left and Rush's adroit nod-down to Bowyer saw the ex-Charlton youngster sweep home Leeds' third goal from 15 yards. Again Derby seemed down, but they were not out. Two minutes from time Gary Rowett's speculative punt forward into the Leeds penalty area was completely missed by Lucas Radebe. The predatory Sturridge was lurking again to pounce on the opportunity and level the scores with another fiercely- struck volley that flew past Martyn's right shoulder into the net.

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