Leeds 2-2 Derby: Tom Ince rescues Derby point in thriller
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 29/12/15 11:16pm
Substitute Tom Ince rescued a point for Derby to keep their automatic promotion hopes in the Sky Bet Championship on track during a thrilling 2-2 draw at Leeds on Tuesday evening.
Ince lashed home a 78th-minute equaliser after Chris Wood had headed Leeds into a 2-1 lead, after home skipper Sol Bamba had earlier cancelled out Jeff Hendrick's 13th-minute opener for the visitors just before half-time.
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino reluctantly agreed to allow the game to be televised live at the 11th hour after relenting on his threat to ban Sky Sports cameras from Elland Road.
The hosts did not appear to be distracted by the row in the opening exchanges, but then did their best to make Derby feel all too welcome with some sloppy defending, which led to the opening goal in the 13th minute.
Derby's former Leeds defender Stephen Warnock threaded the ball into the penalty area and both Liam Bridcutt and Bamba declined to attack it, allowing Hendrick ample time to lift his shot over goalkeeper Marco Silvestri.
Tom Adeyemi, back in Leeds' midfield at the expense of teenager Lewis Cook, headed Sam Byram's right-wing cross over the bar in the 22nd minute, while Luke Murphy did well to block Hendrick's shot at the other end.
Derby's cohesion had Leeds creaking midway through the first half, but Steve Evans' players gritted their teeth and were rewarded with a 42nd-minute equaliser.
Returning skipper Bamba, on the bench in recent weeks following a fractured toe and making his first start since the end of October, side-footed home from close-range after a concerted spell of pressure ended with Byram's ball back into the box.
Referee Mark Heywood was replaced by fourth official Richard Clarke at half-time after pulling a hamstring as the second period began at a similar pace to the first.
Midfielder Bradley Johnson, another Derby player facing his former club, had a fierce shot blocked and Leeds winger Stuart Dallas' long-range effort forced visiting goalkeeper Lee Grant to gather.
Scott Wootton rescued Leeds with a timely block from Andreas Weimann's shot and moments later the home side's grim determination was again rewarded.
As Leeds worked the ball down the right channel, Byram raced beyond Warnock and sent over an inch-perfect cross for Wood to head home his eighth goal of the season in the 71st minute.
But Derby showed why they are among the promotion favourites to hit back seven minutes later when Johnny Russell set up Ince, who drilled home a fine finish into the bottom corner having only replaced Weimann two minutes earlier.
The visitors went close to snatching all three points when Johnson's header was saved by Silvestri, while Leeds midfielder Luke Murphy's late free-kick forced a smart save from Grant in a rousing finish.
Leeds manager Steve Evans said:
"Derby probably feel like a draw is a fair result, but we feel like it's two points very much dropped. We've learned that we've got a lot of pride, a lot of tenacity and a lot of commitment because we don't change because we've got a draw with Derby. It's a game we should've seen out."
Derby manager Paul Clement said:
"Both goals were soft really and totally unlike us. We'd only conceded 13 goals in 23 games up until tonight so I thought both goals were very disappointing and apart from that, there were very little other chances for them."