Late Davies goal denies Blues
A late equaliser from Derby's Steve Davies prevented Birmingham going level with Wolves at the top.
By Ben Collins
Last Updated: 30/09/08 10:54pm
A late equaliser from Derby's Steve Davies prevented Birmingham going level with Wolves at the top of the Championship.
Quincy Owusu-Abeyie fired Birmingham into a 26th-minute lead at Pride Park before Derby substitute Davies claimed his first goal for the Rams just three minutes from time.
That secured a fifth game without defeat for the resurgent Rams and left the visitors two points adrift of Wolves following their 3-0 home defeat by Reading.
Derby enjoyed their fair share of possession but the result was harsh on a Blues side which had dominated throughout without being spectacular.
Mehdi Nafti, drafted into Birmingham's starting XI in place of Sebastian Larsson just prior to kick-off, tested Roy Carroll with a rasping drive after only 55 seconds.
And the upbeat tempo of the opening exchanges continued as the first half wore on with Blues coming close to breaking the deadlock after 16 minutes.
A neat back-heel from McFadden found Stuart Parnaby down the right and he sent a teasing ball across the six-yard area that Rams defender Paul Connolly did well to turn behind for a corner, albeit coming within inches of putting the ball into his own net.
But Blues only had to wait 10 minutes for on-loan winger Quincy to make the breakthrough in spectacular fashion.
The Ghana international picked the ball up just inside the Derby half and played a neat one-two with James McFadden before firing his second goal in as many games in off the crossbar from the edge of the box.
The home side continued to plug away after the opener but, as was the case before the goal, failed to create anything of note prior to the interval.
The visitors dominated proceedings immediately after the restart as Derby struggled to keep hold of he ball for any sustained period.
The dogged Lee Carsley and the battling Nafti were winning everything in the centre of midfield, and with the pace of Quincy and the enthusiasm of Kemy Agustien, Blues were a constant threat going forward.
McFadden blazed the first real chance of the second half over the bar from the edge of the penalty area when he really should have at least hit the target.
But as much as Birmingham were dominating the encounter with a disciplined display, Derby were failing to really test their resolve - a series of half-hearted penalty appeals the closest they were coming to fashioning an equaliser.
Midfielder Miles Addison prodded narrowly wide in the 72nd minute following a goalmouth scramble and Paul Green forced Blues keeper Maik Taylor to save low to his left.
Garry O'Connor then drilled a great chance into the side-netting with 13 minutes remaining before Davies stunned the visitors by connecting with a long free-kick from Nacer Barazite to divert the ball into the top corner.
Both sides had chances to claim all three points late on but had to settle for a point apiece, a result that continues a huge upturn in fortunes for Paul Jewell's men after a disappointing start to the season.