Deadlock at Derby: Derby County 0 – 0 Aston Villa

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With new signing Mile Jedinak not yet cleared to play, Di Matteo made only one change to the team that drew against Huddersfield Town, with Gardner replacing the injured Tshibola.

It was a cautious start to the game, although it was the visitors who looked the more menacing in the early stages.

McCormack rattled the crossbar after seventeen minutes, forcing Carson to make a fine fingertip save.

Three minutes later, Carson made a routine save when Gestede headed a corner straight at him.

Grealish, having held off two defenders, then shot from fifteen yards out. Unfortunately, his effort lacked any real power.

After twenty-eight minutes, Gestede was forced off and replaced by the lesser-spotted Kozák.

Seven minutes after the substitution, following some neat exchanges with McCormack, it was Gardner’s turn to hit the woodwork – the inside of the right post, no less – with a fierce strike from twenty-five yards out.

The Villans went into the break unlucky not to have taken the lead against a team that created very little in the way of goal-scoring opportunities.

As the second half got under way, Pearson replaced Butterfield with Camara and the Rams were more pro-active with the winger on the pitch.

Ince’s low shot was saved by Gollini minutes after the restart.

Westwood made a crucial clearance, clearing Keogh’s header off the line, before Ayew’s right-footed shot from outside the box proved high and wide.

In the seventieth minute, a Villa corner caused confusion and the Rams had a lucky escape when Hughes cleared Elphick’s close-range effort off the line.

Ince then came close for the hosts but had to watch his free-kick drift wide by a hair’s breadth.

Substitute Kozák wasted a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock when his free header went wide.

Former Villa man Bent came on for Ince after seventy-seven minutes to a good reception from the travelling Villans.

The Villa fans were feeling less welcoming when the striker connected with a good cross from Christie but, to their relief, Bent was unable to direct his header on target.

In an unusual move, Di Matteo substituted his substitute, with Green coming on for Kozák after eighty-three minutes. Grealish also made way for Amavi at this point.

Despite pressing for a late winner, the hosts were unable to find one. They felt rather disgruntled that they weren’t awarded a penalty with five minutes left to play when Cissokho appeared to be holding Keogh in the area.
Camara’s header in stoppage time was high and wide.

The Villans, held to their second successive draw and unbeaten in three, now have five points from four games.

Speaking post-match, Di Matteo said:

“Away from home, a point is always a good point, especially at Derby, and I thought today we did everything that you need to do to deserve to win a game but fortune wasn’t on our side.

I have seen a lot of positives again and I can see this group, how they are working on a daily basis and improving, and we may be missing a few points but it’s a long season and we’ll get them back somewhere.

I would be happy if we win a game with one chance and one goal but we hit the crossbar, the post, had a clearance off the line and hit the side net so I thought offensively we were very good and dominated the game for large parts of the ninety minutes.

We created plenty of opportunities going forward and little details make the difference and we will keep working on those and I’m sure we will improve.”

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