Davies displays 'magnificent' grit

Derby County 2 Blackpool 1

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The Independent Football

Steve Davies, starting only his second match since suffering a career-threatening head injury in October, scored two second-half goals last night to seal Derby County's first victory in eight Championship games after play-off candidates Blackpool had struck inside two minutes through Tom Ince.

Amazingly, given that the fractured skull he sustained against Southampton left him with a metal plate in his head, Davies followed up Saturday's headed goal at Birmingham by rising to convert Ben Davies' 75th-minute free-kick and complete Derby's fightback.

Ian Holloway, the Blackpool manager, cut an angry figure in the closing stages, later complaining about referee Carl Boyeson's alleged inability to spot blatant fouls on his strikers. The first half had been a different matter. "I didn't want it to end," he said, "because I was enjoying the way we were playing. But in the second half Derby began brightly whereas we started sluggishly and looked more like a diesel than a Rolls-Royce. They've got six points off us this season and it's all from set pieces. You've got to deal with them."

Andy Garner, the first-team coach at Derby, hailed Davies as "magnificent" and added: "I can't believe how many injuries he's had for a 24-year-old but one thing he can do is score a goal."

Blackpool led through Ince's 10-yard shot after Gareth Roberts failed to clear Stephen Crainey's cross. Derby levelled in the 51st minute when Davies' drilled free-kick deflected off a defender to leave Matt Gilks wrong-footed.

Ben Davies' set piece was met by his namesake, the Liverpudlian's eighth goal of the season, and even Holloway said he was "proud of that boy for getting over what happened to him".

Derby County (4-4-2): Fielding; Green, Barker, Shackell, Roberts; Bryson, Hendrick, Carroll (Tyson, 68), B Davies; Robinson, S Davies (Buxton, 89). Substitutes not used Legzdins (gk), Ball, Doyle.

Blackpool (4-4-2): Gilks; Eardley, Baptiste, Wilson, Crainey; Ince, Southern, Ferguson, Ormerod (M Phillips, 54); K Phillips (LuaLua, 87), Bednar (Taylor-Fletcher, 59). Substitutes not used Cathcart, Sylvestre.

Referee C Boyeson (Yorkshire).