Marcus Tudgay ended a 10-week goal drought by scoring against his former club yesterday but might feel he missed the chance to add an FA Cup embarrassment to Derby County's Premier League horrors.
The 24-year-old striker, sold to Sheffield Wednesday two years ago after five years at Pride Park, drilled home the Championship side's second as they thrilled 5,500 visiting fans by sweeping to a two-goal lead in 23 minutes, at which point the Derby manager, Paul Jewell, conceded that his team's prospects were looking "pretty grim".
But it was the header that Tudgay missed after 34 minutes, sending the ball over the bar after Lee Bullen's cross found him unmarked, that might have made the replay a week tomorrow unnecessary.
"Marcus has had a lean time lately and it will do his confidence a lot of good to score, especially against his old team," the Wednesday manager, Brian Laws, lamented. "Another game will be good for us financially but of the two managers I must be the more disappointed. Derby have never recovered from being a goal down this season so to be 2-0 up you think your luck's in. Maybe we were given a couple of gifts but... it is disappointing."
Unfortunately for him, if Derby's defending was poor then Wednesday's was consistent with their place at the wrong end of the second tier. Thus, having given their guests a flying start when rookie goalkeeper Lewis Price allowed a Mark Beevers volley to squeeze through his grasp and the much more experienced Darren Moore misdirected a header to set up Tudgay, Derby made the most of Wednesday's shortcomings to draw level before half-time.
Three minutes after Tudgay's squandered opportunity, Kenny Miller outmanoeuvred a posse of defenders before firing into the corner after Craig Fagan had delivered a cross from the right.
Then, just before half-time, after Wednesday had failed in at least two attempts to clear an Eddie Lewis corner, Giles Barnes shot home to take his side into the break unexpectedly back on equal terms.
The second half was unremarkable by comparison. Derby's finishing, unsurprisingly, was not as confident as it might have been and Lee Grant was a solid presence in goal against his former club, making one particularly good stop to keep out a Gary Teale volley. Jewell was happy to have a second chance, however, against a club he managed for eight months in the least successful period of his managerial career.
"We were staring down the barrel at 2-0 down so to come back showed character," he said. Derby expect to complete the signing of former Newcastle winger Laurent Robert before Saturday's Premier League match against Wigan, when the Argentine striker, Emanuel Villa, will make his debut.
Goals: Beevers (9) 0-1; Tudgay (23) 0-2; Miller (38) 1-2; Barnes (45) 2-2.
Derby County (4-4-2): Price; Mears (Johnson, 32), Todd, Moore, Mills; Teale (Macken, 84), Oakley, Barnes, Lewis; Fagan, Miller. Substitutes not used: Hinchliffe (gk), Edworthy, Feilhaber.
Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Grant; Bullen, Hinds, Beevers, Spurr; Johnson, O'Brien, Whelan, Esajas; Jeffers (Burton, 60), Tudgay. Substitutes not used: Gilbert, McAllister, Wood, Boden.
Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).
Booked: Derby Teale, Mills.
Man of the match: Teale.
Call from Capello?
Giles Barnes (Derby County)
One for the long term, Barnes is showing signs of returning to the form that reportedly sparked interest from Spurs and Aston Villa.Reuse content