gutsy-derby-see-off-stoke

Gutsy Derby see off Stoke

Colin Kazim-Richards was Derby’s match-winner for a second successive game as he came off the bench to earn Wayne Rooney’s side a 2-1 Championship win at Stoke.

The 35-year-old slotted home an 84th-minute winner with his left foot, seven minutes after former Rams favourite Tom Ince looked to have rescued a point for the hosts, to earn Derby their third straight win.

Kazim-Richards had also been the hero in Derby’s victory over high-flying West Brom three days ago.

His third goal of the season, which completed a league double over Stoke for the division’s bottom side, came after he replaced first-half scorer Luke Plange.

Nineteen-year-old Plange, making only his third first-team start, fired County into a deserved 16th-minute lead with the second goal of his senior career.

Victory marked the first time Derby had won three straight games since January and lifted them to within 11 points of safety.

Despite their 21-point deduction for entering administration, there is clearly still plenty of fight in Rooney’s improving side.

In contrast, Stoke largely disappointed to remain frustratingly out of the top seven.

In action for the first time in 19 days, Michael O’Neill’s side made a predictably sluggish start.

Derby forced two corners in the opening four minutes, while Adam Davies blocked Kamil Jozwiak’s close-range effort unaware the Pole had drifted offside.

Jozwiak was one of three players returning to the County ranks after coronavirus.

And, with referee Matt Donohue playing a good advantage after a tackle on skipper Tom Lawrence, it was the Pole’s clever pass that unlocked Stoke’s usually solid defence for the opener.

Plange did the rest, running on to shoot low through Davies’ legs.

It took the Potters until the 35th minute to threaten the visitors’ goal as Mario Vrancic and Tyrese Campbell combined for Josh Tymon to lash a 20-yard left-footed drive fractionally wide.

Stoke started the second half with greater intent and were convinced they should have received a 51st-minute penalty for handball.

Tymon’s cross struck Phil Jagielka, another of the Derby contingent returning from a Covid lay-off, but Donohue waved aside home protests, including those of frustrated boss O’Neill.

Stoke tried to press home their territorial advantage, bringing on Steven Fletcher for Jacob Brown.

Plange and Vrancic traded bookings, with the youngster’s foul his last action before being replaced.

Ince, who scored 25 times in 83 appearances for the Rams, had been on the field just eight minutes when he drilled home a left-footed finish for the equaliser.

Derby, though, were not finished and, after Stoke were caught in possession, the ball was worked through for Kazim-Richards to secure another three points.