Football: Three Gunner salute for Baseball Ground

Derby County 1 Arsenal 3

Arsenal, playing for nearly 80 minutes with 10 men following Tony Adams's dismissal for two cases of ungentlemanly conduct, dashed Derby's hopes of leaving their home of 102 years on a high note by coming from behind to win with ease.

When the Arsenal captain was banished, minutes after Ashley Ward had opened the scoring, the circumstances looked propitious for Derby to end their tenure at the Baseball Ground with a victory. But, as they proved the last time Adams was sent off, at Newcastle, playing with a man short is no impediment to Arsene Wenger's side.

While the points earned by two goals from Ian Wright and another by Dennis Bergkamp were not enough to take Arsenal into the European Champions' League, there was much for Wenger to savour at the end of his first Premiership campaign. In particular, the audacity and skill of his fellow Frenchman, the substitute Nicolas Anelka, augurs well for next season.

But if the afternoon ended with the 18-year-old Anelka providing an enticing glimpse of Highbury's future, the earlier part of the day had been devoted to Derby's past.

Brian Clough was not well enough to accept an invitation to be guest of honour at the stadium to which he brought the championship a quarter of a century ago, but there were enough nostalgic names to put a capacity crowd in celebratory mood.

Dave Mackay, who led Derby to a second title in 1975 after Clough's controversial departure, received rapturous applause before the game. Charlie George, back at the scene of his hat-trick against Real Madrid, was affectionately acclaimed by both sets of fans. All that was missing, it seemed, was one of those swamps that used to pass for a pitch at the Baseball Ground.

The weather tried to oblige. As rain swept over the ground, puddles formed on the bone-hard surface. Derby, playing with freedom after edging into mid-table, were undeterred and seized the lead after just seven minutes.

Aljosa Asanovic's deep cross was met by the head of Ward, whose first effort struck an upright. When the ball rebounded to him, a second thrust of the forehead notched up his 12th goal of the season.

Within 60 seconds, Adams was cautioned after scything down Asanovic on the halfway line. Three minutes later, when Adams perpetrated a similarly crude challenge on Darryl Powell, in an identical position on the opposite flank, Mr Durkin had no choice other than to issue a second yellow card. Adams was already sprinting towards the tunnel by the time the referee found the red.

Without his aerial presence, Ward had three opportunities to add to Derby's lead. He sent the first wastefully wide; the second bobbled against the post; and the third was athletically touched behind by David Seaman.

They were to be costly misses. Paul McGrath, that most regal and ramshackle of Rams, was nutmegged by Wright in the final minutes of his farewell appearance for Derby. Mart Poom saved the shot which followed, but it delayed the equaliser by only two minutes. When the Estonian failed to hold a shot by the increasingly confident Anelka, Wright stole in to guide the ball home.

An exquisite back-heel pass by the precocious Frenchman soon gave Wright a chance to put Arsenal ahead, but Poom held firm. However, he was helplessly beaten with nine minutes remaining. A shot by Ray Parlour broke off the defender to Bergkamp, whose chip sailed over the keeper from 18 yards.

Deep in stoppage time, Wright turned in Anelka's low cross for his 30th goal of the season. It was all rather anti-climactic for Derby, whose supporters must have watched the post-match pyrotechnics in the knowledge that Arsenal had provided the real fireworks on the great old ground's last day.

Goals: Ward (7) 1-0; Wright (55) 1-1; Bergkamp (81) 1-2; Wright (90) 1-3.

Derby County (3-5-2): Poom; McGrath (Carsley, 56), Dailly, Laursen; Rowett, Van der Laan; Asanovic, D Powell (Trollope, h-t), C Powell; Willems (Simpson, 76), Ward. Substitutes not used: Yates, Hoult (gk).

Arsenal (3-5-2): Seaman; Keown, Adams, Bould; Dixon, Merson (Anelka, 7), Vieira (Parlour, 76), Platt, Winterburn; Bergkamp, Wright. Substitutes not used: Marshall, Hughes, Lukic (gk).

Referee: P Durkin (Poole, Dorset). Booking: Arsenal: Adams. Sending-off: Adams.

Man of the match: Anelka. Attendance: 18,287.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...