Football: O'Brien strikes to deny Rams

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The Independent Online
Newcastle United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

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

THIS highly entertaining match began and ended with a bang. Derby County opened the scoring after just two minutes and Newcastle drew level in the final minute amid scenes of jubilation at St James' Park yesterday.

Between the goals, scored by Tommy Johnson and Liam O'Brien, this was a tense and absorbing contest as Newcastle bombarded the County goal only to be nearly undone two or three times in the second half as the Rams counter-attacked in the impressive style that has brought them seven away wins in the League this season.

Marco Gabbiadini, formerly of Sunderland, who was roundly booed every time he touched the ball, silenced the home support by creating Derby's goal in their first attack. He held off a challenge by Steve Howey before turning the ball back invitingly across the face of the goal. Pavel Srnicek, positioned at the near post, went full stretch to intercept the low cross, but he could only touch the ball into the path of Johnson, who scored easily.

From then on United went in search of the equaliser. Their neat, possession football, however, faltered in and around the Derby penalty area and before the interval the closest they came to scoring was when David Kelly struck the bar.

County's defensive play was untidy at times, but it effectively denied United. There were numerous appeals by the home side for penalties, but they were all turned down. The referee, David Allison, did, however, book Derby's Craig Short and Johnson for fouls on Robert Lee and Lee Clark, United's two most enterprising attackers.

There was occasional sloppy defensive work by United which should have been punished. From Mark Pembridge's cross Paul Kitson flashed in a close-range header which Srnicek instinctively flicked over the bar. And then Gabbiadini scorned the best chance of the match, bursting through from a suspiciously offside position and taking the ball wide of the keeper only to check and lob it over the bar.

With 40 seconds of stoppage time played Lee once again broke clear on the right before crossing temptingly into the goal area. Steve Sutton initially came for the ball, but changed his mind, leaving it for his defenders, Jason Kavanagh and Short. They failed to make contact and the ball ran to O'Brien who scored from six yards to send the home fans into raptures.

Goals: Johnson (2) 0-1; O'Brien (89) 1-1.

Newcastle United: Srnicek; Venison, Beresford, O'Brien, Scott, Howey, Lee, Peacock, Kelly (Kilcline, 76), Clark, Sheedy (Bracewell, 62).

Derby: Sutton; Kavanagh, Forsyth, Short, Wassall (McMinn, 64), Pembridge, Johnson, Kuhl, Kitson, Gabbiadini, Patterson. Substitute not used: Simpson.

Referee: D Allison (Lancaster).