Report from BIRMINGHAM CITY 2-2 DERBY COUNTY as the Rams hang on for a point

Richard Keogh heads home Derby's second goal.
Richard Keogh heads home Derby's second goal.

Derby County remain outside the play-off zone after being held at Birmingham City on Good Friday.

A remarkable first half-an-hour brought four goals, City strikes by Lukas Jutkiewicz and Michael Morrison being cancelled out by Martyn Waghorn and Richard Keogh respectively.

But Derby could never stamp their authority on the game, with their midfield in particular largely absent, and were fortunate not to lose as City put plenty of second-half pressure on and struck the woodwork in their search of a winner.

It takes the pursuit of a play-off place out of Derby's hands with three games to go, those trio of encounters now realistically requiring three wins if they're to stand a real chance of finishing in the top six.

The game's first chance brought its first goal. A Birmingham corner from out on the right was swung in by Jota and Jutkiewicz was somehow allowed the opportunity to volley home from around six yards out, with the Rams defence left wanting - a theme that would become a familiar one all afternoon.

But five minutes later Derby were level. Jayden Bogle's volleyed ball forward saw Waghorn beat the offside trap and the Rams striker looked up before, first time, lobbing the advancing Lee Camp, who got a touch as the ball found its way into the net.

What chances there were, brought goals. The third arrived on 19 minutes and it was thanks to Derby again struggling to clear a corner, Bogle's scuffed clearance falling to Morrison a few yards out and he drilled the ball home.

The Rams responded immediately with Mason Mount forcing Camp to parry his effort from inside the penalty area, before then pulling level on 28 minutes.

A short corner found Ashley Cole whose pinpoint cross to the back post found Keogh arriving and his powerful header found the roof of the net. The skipper had arguably been at fault for City's first goal having failed to track the scorer but made up for it with the leveller.

A remarkable game nearly had another goal three minutes later as Che Adams broke clear in an two on one and squared to Jutkiewicz but his first time shot was narrowly wide of the far post.

Chances then dried up before the break, Derby claiming a penalty right on the whistle when Tom Lawrence's cross struck Maxime Colin's hand on its way through to Camp, Craig Bryson's vociferous complaints earning him a yellow card.

The second-half nearly began as the first had, with Jutkiewicz this time heading over from a Jota corner, then Adams was denied by Cole's tackle as he fired on goal having been released through the middle.

City were then denied by the post on 59 minutes and it was again the Jota/Jutkiewicz corner combination that nearly cost Derby, this time the latter's header coming back off the inside of the upright and the ball only just being claimed by keeper Kelle Roos as Harlee Dean tried to force it home.

Derby were offering very little in the second-half as their defending at set pieces continued to cause a concern and the lack of any notable input from the midfield allowed City to remain in control.

Wilson and Waghorn were replaced by Bennett and Marriott with 20 minutes to go as Frank Lampard tried to instil some quality in the final third, their first chance of the half coming soon afterwards when Bryson couldn't quite connect with a Lawrence cross and Lawrence himself then forcing a fumbled save out of Camp.

Maghoma then cut inside but saw his shot deflected safely through to Roos as the hosts looked for a winner, before the Rams nearly registered themselves when the hosts failed to clear a corner effectively and Fikayo Tomori managed to get a shot in that was blocked by Camp, Tomori unable to head in the rebound as the ball came back quickly to him.

The hosts had a claim for handball in stoppage time when Adams' powerful strike struck Cole before the Rams cleared, City adamant the ball had hit Cole's hand rather than body - a call repeated moments later when Morrison's effort saw Keogh seem also seem to connect with his hand as the ball went for a corner.

Morrison then curled a late effort just past the post after good work from Maghoma as City finished the game far stronger, but that would be the last chance of the game, the hosts perhaps feeling more aggrieved not to have taken the three points.

Attention now turns to Pride Park on Monday for the Rams as QPR pay a visit, three points crucial ahead of a six-pointer at Bristol City next Saturday.

Birmingham: Camp, Pedersen, Colin, Adams, Jutkiewicz (Vassell 79), Dean, Maghoma, G Gardner, Jota, Davis, Morrison (c)

Subs not used: Trueman (GK), Roberts, C Gardner, Mrabti, Lakin, Harding

Derby: Roos, Bryson, Tomori, Keogh (c), Wilson (Bennett 71), Mount, Waghorn (Marriott 71), Lawrence (Nugent 83), Johnson, Cole, Bogle

Subs not used: Carson (GK), Wisdom, Evans, Huddlestone

Ref: Simon Hooper

Att: 23,902

Goals:

Birmingham - Jutkiewicz 2, Morrison 19

Derby - Waghorn 7, Keogh 28

Star Ram: Ashley Cole