Dashing Derby

Derby County 4 Van der Laan 10,Trollope 22, Sturridge 68, Ward 69 Tottenham Hotspur 2 Rosenthal 29, Dozzell 50 Attendance: 18,083
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The Independent Online
Slowly but surely Derby are getting back on the straight and narrow which will ensure that when they move to their new premises next season, Premiership football will still be on offer. But for a nervous 15 minutes either side of half-time, they were by far the hungrier side yesterday against a muted Spurs.

That was demonstrated in the first 20 minutes when County charged ahead with goals from Robin van der Laan and Paul Trollope which should have put them in an unassailable position. Spurs' wobbling defence hadn't done much to protect Ian Walker for the first goal as Van der Laan thumped a slackly headed clearance beyond him, and they were definitely out to lunch for Trollope's second in the 22nd minute.

Chris Powell had stretched the visitors' defence - as he was to do for most of the 90 minutes - and took them by surprise when his 40-yard run ended with a superb pass to Trollope who duly fired home Derby's second.

Ronny Rosenthal pulled one back for Spurs in the 29th minute. The Israeli international had just replaced Andy Sinton when he swept Teddy Sheringham's header past the Derby goalkeeper, Martin Taylor.

It was County's turn to wobble now and they were still trembling when Jason Dozzell drove home the equaliser in the 50th minute after Taylor had saved a shot from Steffen Iversen.

Paul McGrath pushed himself forward into the fray and Walker had to pull out the best save of the day to parry the defender's shot for a corner. The Irishman's colleagues got the message and in the 68th minute Dean Sturridge turned neatly inside Sol Campbell and swept a carefully placed shot beyond Walker.

The visitors barely had time to gather their wits when, within a minute, Ashley Ward pounced on Christian Dailly's header from Aljosa Asanovic's corner for County's fourth.

Only two visitors will want to remember this game: Campbell, although he fought a losing battle to try and stiffen an irresolute defence, and the young Irishman Steve Carr who, with sporadic assistance from Allan Nielsen, tried to bring some coherence to the Spurs' attack where Sheringham was well off colour.