That Wolverhampton Wanderers should have drawn this game will have come as little surprise to their supporters.
That Wolverhampton Wanderers should have drawn this game will have come as little surprise to their supporters. It was, after all, the 10th time in 14 Championship matches since Glenn Hoddle became manager in early December that they have finished level, and their 16th league draw in total this season.
But the manner in which they contrived to achieve this latest stalemate was impressive even by their standards as an incident-packed match at Pride Park produced six goals, with two more disallowed, and a penalty that twice had to be retaken.
When Kenny Miller skipped down the right flank with a minute remaining and crossed for Carl Cort to tap in, they had the lead for the second time in the match. However, Wolves being Wolves, deep into injury-time they allowed Marco Reich to head home after Grzegorz Rasiak's shot had hit the post. The point took Derby County clear into fourth place in the Championship.
"That was the best we've played all season," said Hoddle. "To come to a side in the play-off places and play like that was excellent. But I'm distraught that we conceded a freak goal in stoppage-time. So far my time here has been very, very frustrating."
Wolves had the ball in the Derby net within five minutes only for Joleon Lescott to be ruled offside. Then Lescott fouled Rasiak to concede a free-kick 25 yards out. Inigo Idiakez stepped up and curled the ball into the bottom corner to put Derby ahead.
Marcus Tudgay headed Rasiak's cross against the post but with Wolves seemingly in danger of being overwhelmed, they produced a fine goal of their own. Rob Edwards broke down the right, fed by Seyi Olofinjana, and he crossed for Miller to score with a far-post header.
Derby had a goal of their own disallowed on the half-hour when Junior was ruled offside. With 18 minutes remaining, Lescott headed Wolves into a lead from Paul Ince's cross, but before thoughts could turn to a precious away win, Edwards tripped Paul Peschisolido in the penalty area.
Idiakez converted the spot-kick only for Iain Williamson, the referee, to disallow it for encroachment. Michael Oakes saved his second effort but the Wolves goalkeeper was judged to have moved off his line. Idiakez held his nerve at the third attempt to set up the frantic finale.
"It wasn't our best performance but at least we got something from the game and I'm pleased about that," said George Burley, the Derby manager. "It was a strange game with some strange refereeing decisions but we showed a lot of character to keep going in the last minute."
Derby County (4-2-3-1): Camp; Kenna, Mills, Huddlestone, Makin; Bolder, Idiakez; Smith (Reich, 86), Junior (Peschisolido, h-t), Tudgay (Taylor, h-t); Rasiak. Substitutes not used: Grant (gk), Konjic.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-1-4-1): Oakes; Edwards, Lescott, Craddock, Naylor; Ince; Miller, Olofinjana, Kennedy, Seol; Cort. Substitutes not used: Jones (gk), Andrews, Cooper, Clarke, Bjorklund.
Referee: I Williamson (Berkshire).