|AFC Bournemouth||2||Matt Ritchie 12, Callum Wilson 44|
|Derby County||2||Tom Ince 30, Darren Bent 68|
There is such a thing as a good point and in the aftermath of a breathless game at the Goldsands Stadium this feels like one.
This was such an intense game. It was high on tension, but also high in quality, as the Rams showed great character and resolve to equalise twice against the free scoring hosts and secure that good point.
Indeed we largely controlled the second half, restricted Bournemouth to one skewed Harry Artur effort and could quite easily have taken the three points from this crucial game.
Two of our January signings were on the score sheet with Tom Ince and Darren Bent both showing great poise to put away their chances and in doing so vindicating again the decision making processes at the club at the moment.
Think for a moment the impact that Ince jr. and Darren Bent have had in their short time at the Rams, seven goals between them and a lift to the squad and the team – and they are only part of the enhancement to the squad in January with Raul Albentosa likely to play a key part in the season to come and the presence of Stephen Warnock on the bench surely a factor in the resurgence of Craig Forsyth’s form in recent weeks.
The Rams made one change for this game, Cyrus Christie replacing Ryan Shotton at right back and it was a quick and powerful start to the game by Derby putting pressure on the hosts who looked nervy for the first five minutes and creaky at the back.
The mood changed quickly though and we seemed to be unsettled by an incident on 10 minutes when Lee Grant handled outside of the area while, arguably, being obstructed by Callum Wilson.
Referee Mark Clattenburg, who had a good game, made a pragmatic decision not punishing the Rams keeper but awarding the Cherries a free kick in a dangerous area. The free kick passed harmlessly but Bournemouth then scored with their first incisive attack Callum Wilson and Yann Kermogant setting up Matt Richie to score.
Bad became worse on 14 minutes when Chris Martin limped off with what looked like an ankle injury and was replaced by Darren Bent.
Of the many things that impressed me about the Rams tonight, how we coped without our talismanic No.9 was right up there.
Talk to Rams fans throughout this season and top of the list of our concerns was how the team would function without Chris Martin. Well, we were going to have to find out pretty sharpish in probably our most difficult game of the season after he limped off.
We struggled to settle in the aftermath of the goal and a weak backheader from Keogh almost gifted a second goal but Wilson could not finish.
After some heroics from Jake Buxton putting his body on the line to repel a Cherries attacks the Rams equalised thanks to the midfield maestro Hughes who tried to play in Darren Bent on the right hand side of the area.
The on loan striker robbed the Bournemouth full back Simon Francis and played a superb pass for Tom Ince and the man of the moment shimmied to dummy a defender and finished superbly for the goal.
From a high to a low within minutes though. After our equaliser we continued to pressure the hosts but then undid so much good work when just before the half time whistle Wilson was allowed to accept the ball by the Rams central defence and fire the Cherries back into the lead.
The second half started at a lesser pace than what had gone before, but no surprise there as it would have taken a superhuman effort by both sides to keep up the intensity.
The Rams slowly cranked up the pressure and control and worked a half chance for Tom Ince who got past a couple of defenders but was prevented from scoring again by a superb tackle from Tommy Elphick.
The second equaliser came from a clinical finish from Darren Bent. Good play by Craig Forsyth and Simon Dawkins (on as substitute only two minutes earlier for Jamie Ward) saw Dawkins play the ball across the area and the former England striker nipped in front of the defence for his fourth goal for the Rams – a quality finish from quality striker.
The Rams put more pressure on Cherries after the second equaliser and Bournemouth increasingly looked towards Callum Wilson for the long ball outlet as the game went on and had little else to offer by way of threat.
Even though we could not force the winner this was a performance to give us great heart for the rest of the season.
There were good performances all over the pitch tonight, Craig Forsyth having a good game, as did Omar Mascarell who is seemingly growing with every game. Tom Ince and Darren Bent provide us with a very welcome cutting edge.
Jeff Hendrick was again very good and Will Hughes has maintained a level of excellence over a number of games now that is a joy to see.
I can’t remember the last time a point felt so satisfying and positive and even seeing Middlesbrough grub their way past Blackpool 2-1 to go top could not detract from that.