Rotherham United vs Derby County match report: Darren Bent earns point but Derby miss chance to seize summit

Rotherham United 3 Derby County 3

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The Independent Football

Steve McClaren’s Derby battled back from behind to salvage a point but missed the chance to go two points clear at the top of the Championship with a result that leaves them level with Bournemouth and Middlesbrough in a three-way share of the lead.

Boro have an opportunity to go clear when they meet Birmingham City at St Andrew’s on Wednesday night.

After two goals 68 seconds apart left the sides level at half-time, Rotherham stunned Derby with two goals in the space of five minutes early in the second half. But the visitors’ resolve was strong and they fought back to claim a point. Tom Ince scored his second goal of the night and Darren Bent his sixth goal in seven matches for Derby to level the match again seven minutes from time.

McClaren will be grateful to have avoided defeat but unhappy with the manner of the goals conceded. Rotherham had delivered a warning of their threat at set-pieces with the first clear chance after 13 minutes, when Danny Ward met Ben Pringle’s nicely flighted free-kick with a firm header which went straight at goalkeeper Lee Grant.

For the next quarter of an hour Derby were in control.  Ince was denied by Paul Green’s clearance off the goalline, then Jamie Ward had two chances within the space of  a minute.

Rotherham lost right-back Jack Hunt with a gashed leg but went ahead when play resumed as Green, who made 143 appearances as a Derby player between 2008 and 2012, popped up with his third goal of the season. 

Derby failed this time to defend a Pringle corner, the winger’s kick won in the air by defender Kirk Broadfoot, who headed the ball across goal for Green to turn home.

Derby drew level before the home crowd’s celebrations had died down, Ince cutting inside from the right flank and whipping a fine shot into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area. It was the England Under-21 international’s fourth goal in three Championship matches since joining Derby on loan from Hull.

But the promotion-chasers were rocked when Richie Smallwood’s free-kick from the left curled into the top right-hand corner and then Matt Derbyshire took advantage of a breakdown in communications between Richard Keogh and Omar Mascarell that allowed him to race clear and fire the ball past Grant.

McClaren responded with a triple substitution and Derby’s strong response paid dividends as Ince converted Craig Forsyth’s low centre and then Bent squeezed home from substitute Jesse Lingard’s cross.