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Rams' comeback hits the spot in the Men’s Cup

Football and Education students celebrate spot kick success

One of our Football and Education sides secured their place in the quarter finals of the EFL CEFA Men’s Cup, coming from two goals down to take Accrington Stanley to a penalty shootout, beating Stanley 4-3 on spot kicks.

Both sides are having a good season, but Derby faced an Accrington side who sit second in the North West Division two and had progressed to the last 16 of the cup, having topped their group and beaten Carlisle United 6-1 to progress to this stage.

Accrington looked hungry for more and had the ball in the back of the net after just two minutes, the linesman’s flag came to the Rams' rescue as the visitors' front man strayed into an offside position.

The visitors enjoyed most of the ball but did little with it inside the opening 15 minutes. Derby then had a good opportunity to open the scoring two minutes later, as number nine’s effort deflected behind for a corner, from which the on rushing defender sent a thunderous header over the bar.

The Rams' defender again came close on 22 minutes from another corner and Derby’s number nine also saw efforts kept at bay.

Four minutes later the visitors seized the initiative, after we gave away a free kick thirty-five yards from goal. Taken quickly by the visitors, Derby failed to react and were picking the ball out of the net as the visiting front man found himself unmarked in the area.

With nine minutes of the first half remaining, the visitors then doubled their lead in similar circumstances. This time from open play, the Accrington front line was played in behind and made no mistake in converting beyond the Rams' keeper.

Accrington’s second goal proved to be the wake-up call Derby needed. From the restart, they set about getting back in the game. A neat give and go between nine and four saw the latter clean through on goal – firing beyond the keeper.

It should have been all square by half-time, as on 44 minutes a deep cross saw four again free inside the box, a neat touch saw him only have the keeper to beat, but the visiting number one did enough to keep his side in the game. Seconds later from the second phase of play Derby’s four skewed an effort wide from the same position.

Derby were fired up going into the second half and set about completing the comeback – on 65 minutes a deep cross from the right-hand side from number seven picked out sixteen free in the area, but his effort went over the crossbar.

On 77 minutes the visitors had the keeper to thank as he denied number nine a one vs one after a long ball forward, however three minutes later, he was picking the ball out of the net as number eight nipped in behind to convert from a tight angle, pulling Derby level.

Both sides went for the jugular but neither could find a winner, and with the game tied at 2-2 after ninety minutes of intense football, a penalty shootout was needed to separate the sides.

Going up first, Accrington couldn’t take the lead as they fired over the bar – Derby made no mistake with their first spot-kick to go 1-0 up.

The pendulum then swung as Accrington scored and the keeper saved Derby’s second shot, before both sides netted their third kick of the shootout.

Accrington’s fourth penalty of the shootout was put wide to put Derby in the driving seat, the Rams' captain kept calm to make it 3-2 with one kick remaining for the visitors.

Derby’s keeper guessed correctly but couldn’t keep out the visitors' final penalty, responsibility then fell on right back on the home team, who blasted home and put Derby into the final eight.

Speaking after securing his side’s place in the quarter finals, Head Coach Jacob Straw praised his side's character.

“We started the game a little bit slowly, we scored a good goal after going 2-0 down and I think the character we showed to get back into the game was impressive.

“Second half I thought we were fantastic and we finished the game well – penalties always takes a lot of courage from the boys and I can’t fault them really.

“All of the students have been fantastic throughout this year really with all the stop-start of fixtures because of lockdowns – they’re working hard every day in the classrooms and on the training pitch.

“We’ll continue to give it everything we’ve got going into the last eight, if we can play like we did today with the quality, courage and mental strength we’ve shown through it all, I’m sure we’ll do well in the next round.”

Elsewhere, it was all square on Derby Day in Central Four as Derby ‘E’ drew 3-3 with Nottingham Forest ‘B’ and Derby ‘D’ who faced Mansfield Town, were 6-0 winners. Finally in the men’s fixtures. It was defeat in Central Three, against Aston Villa, who ran out 5-1 winners.

Over in the North Central Women’s league, Derby’s women’s team sealed victory over Bradford City, hitting double figures in a 10-2 win. 

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