Keogh fires Wolves further from pack

Derby County 2 Wolverhampton 3
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The Independent Football

Andy Keogh's late winning goal at Pride Park helped Wolves to strengthen their grip on the Championship title and all but assured Mick McCarthy's side of automatic promotion.

The Black Country club stretched their lead at the top of the table to six points with just three games remaining after nearest rivals Birmingham and third-placed Sheffield United, a further point behind the Blues, were held to home draws by Plymouth and Nottingham Forest respectively.

A moment of brilliance from Keogh gave Wolves the lead after seven minutes before Przemyslaw Kazmierczak's free-kick brought Derby level after half an hour. Mile Sterjovski put County ahead 10 minutes after the break and Matt Jarvis restored parity midway through the second half.

It looked as if Wolves would have to settle for a hard-earned point but Keogh sent the travelling Wanderers faithful into ecstasy with a headed winner three minutes from time.

Three Jarvis corners saw the league leaders apply some early pressure but they were well defended by Derby. However, the Rams' defence was caught off guard when Keogh opened the scoring soon afterwards with a wonderful strike from 18 yards. Following a long clearance by Christophe Berra, Keogh held off a Derby defender and struck the ball first time as it dropped over his right shoulder, leaving the goalkeeper Stephen Bywater to watch the volley crash into the net.

Derby responded well and deservedly equalised when Kazmierczak curled a 25-yard free-kick past Wayne Hennessey. Rob Hulse then had a great chance to send the Rams into the interval ahead but powered his close-range header wide from eight yards on the stroke of half-time.

Both sides had chances to edge themselves ahead in an entertaining opening 10 minutes of the second half. It was Derby who seized their chance, Sterjovski atoning for an earlier miss by finding the top corner with a 12-yard shot after 55 minutes. It was end-to-end action and Wolves levelled 20 minutes later after Kyel Reid's low cross from the left eluded fellow substitute Marlon Harewood before finding its way to Jarvis, who slid in at the far post to force the ball over the line.

Both teams pressed for a winning goal and it arrived for Wolves after 87 minutes when Keogh stooped to head home Harewood's right-wing cross from six yards out.

Derby County (4-4-2): Bywater; Connolly, Albrechtsen, Todd, McEveley (Nyatanga, 43); Sterjovski (Bannan, 88), Savage, Kazmierczak (Eustace, 46), Teale; Hulse, Commons. Substitutes not used: Price, Villa, Nyatanga, Eustace, Bannan.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Hennessey; Foley, Craddock, Berra, Hill (S Ward, 70); Edwards (Reid, 61), Jones, Henry, Jarvis; Vokes (Harewood, 58), Keogh. Substitutes not used: Higgs, Stearman, Stephen Ward, Reid, Harewood.

Referee: P Taylor (Hertfordshire).