Football: Derby indebted to Dijkstra own goal

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Derby County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Notts County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

NOTTS COUNTY saw third place in the First Division slip agonisingly from their grasp at the Baseball Ground last night, denied by an own goal in injury time after Mark Draper had apparently capped a well- organised defensive performance with a decisive goal 12 minutes from the end.

Derby, who themselves would have gone third had they won, had all but resigned themselves to the loss of three points when Paul Williams whacked a hopeful cross towards Steve Cherry's goal. There seemed little danger, but after the centre-half Charlie Palmer had fluffed one attempt to clear, the full-back Meindert Dijkstra tried to head the ball back to Cherry but instead sent it looping into the net.

County can count themselves more than a little unlucky, having executed their game-plan to perfection up to that moment. They were able to mount fewer counter-attacks than they possibly intended, but seemed to have snatched victory when Derby's pressure subsided in the last quarter of an hour. Paul Cox's lob from the right looked speculative, but Draper saw the possibilities as Derby's back line hesitated, completing a long run with a fine header over Mark Taylor's head.

A point each keeps both sides in play-off contention, but County have only three games left and Millwall's win last night pushes them out of the top six. 'It keeps things going for us, at least for another week,' Derby's manager, Roy McFarland, said, mindful of second-placed Nottingham Forest's visit to the Baseball Ground next Wednesday.

Mick Walker, his County counterpart, was somewhat gloomier: 'Everything went perfectly until injury time,' he said. 'It may be the costliest mistake of the season for us.'

Derby County (4-4-2): Taylor; Charles, Short, Williams, Nicholson; Harkes, Cowans (Gabbiadini, 89), Pembridge, Simpson; T Johnson, Kitson. Substitutes not used: Kavanagh, Sutton (gk).

Notts County (4-3-3): Cherry; Cox, Murphy, Palmer, Dijkstra; Legg (McSwegan, 61), Draper, Turner; Lund, Devlin, Agana. Substitutes not used: M Johnson, Catlin (gk).

Referee: B Hill (Market Harborough).