Football: Derby penalty evens the score for Smith

Huddersfield Town 2 Derby County 2
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The Independent Online
JIM SMITH knows what it is like to be on the suffering end from the penalty spot in the FA Cup. Only once in his 30 years as a manager in the competition has the veteran with the famously polished pate got within sight of Wembley's twin domes - when his Portsmouth team lost to Liverpool in the shoot-out that decided the semi-final replay at Villa Park in 1992.

It was perhaps a settling of the Bald Eagle's personal score, then, that his Derby County set kept in this season's FA Cup hunt with the help of a fortuitous penalty award at the McAlpine Stadium on Saturday. Peter Jackson, Huddersfield Town's manager, was near apoplectic at pitch-side when Gary Willard pointed to the spot after Dean Sturridge fell to earth in the home penalty box in the 59th minute.

Television replays failed to detect contact of any significance from Rob Edwards but Tony Dorigo, with an assured side-footed conversion, gratefully snatched the gift-wrapped opportunity to put Derby 2-1 in front. "I was disappointed with the referee but I'm not going to fault him," Jackson said in the after-match calm. "Some decisions go against you. Next week we might get one like that in our favour."

In the overall scheme of a rip-roaring tie, Huddersfield could have had no complaint with their lot. For half an hour they exploited the lethargy of their Premiership opponents but for the best part of an hour they were largely outclassed.

They also had the inspirational Nico Vaesen to thank for securing a second chance at Pride Park. The Belgian goalkeeper was in stunning form, producing half a dozen blinding saves, the most vital from Lee Carsley as Mr Willard prepared to blow the final whistle after four minutes of injury time.

"Their keeper kept them in the game," Smith acknowledged. "But we should have made it easier for ourselves. We were sloppy."

Horacio Carbonari certainly was. It was his over-casual attempt to deal with Grant Johnson's speculative punt that left Chris Beech free to chip Huddersfield into a 41st minute lead. It was also the Argentinian defender's failure to clear Ben Thornley's left-wing corner that granted Marcus Stewart a free-header for Huddersfield's 71st minute equaliser.

It was the brilliant Francesco Baiano who orchestrated the right-wing move that led to his side's first goal, feeding Stefano Eranio for the cross Deon Burton headed home in the 55th minute. It was the referee, though, who provided the assist four minutes later, albeit without the help of video analysis - a penalty that the Bald Eagle ultimately needed to stay on the FA Cup perch.

Goals: Beech (41) 1-0; Burton (55) 1-1; Dorigo pen (59) 1-2; Stewart (71) 2-2.

Huddersfield Town (4-4-2): Vaesen; Edmondson (Facey, 67), Dyson, Gray, Edwards; Baldry, Johnson, Phillips, Beech; Thornley, Stewart. Substitutes not used: Barnes, Beresford, Hessey, Senior (gk).

Derby County (3-4-1-2): Hoult; Stimac, Carbonari (Powell, 71), Prior; Laursen, Carsley, Eranio, Dorigo; Baiano (Hunt, 86); Sturridge (Harper, 85), Burton. Substitutes not used: Schnoor, Knight (gk).

Bookings: Huddersfield: Edwards, Dyson. Derby: Burton.

Referee: G Willard (Worthing).

Man of the match: Vaesen.

Attendance: 22,129.