Date:Tuesday February 14 2006
'Demote him back to caretaker again,' cried the wags as Rob Kelly dropped his first two Championship League points since being in charge of City in his first game as official manager against Derby tonight.
The good news was that their 2-2 home draw lifted them from six points to seven points clear of the relegation places and improved their goal difference to 15 better than third-bottom Brighton.
For Kelly the result made it 10 Championship points from a possible 12 but it could so easily have been his fourth straight win.
Leicester were once behind and once ahead but finally had to settle for a draw courtesy of a Richard Stearman own goal.
And, for man of the match Iain Hume it was a tale of two opportunities, one missed, one taken which possibly made the difference between victory and the single point they actually collected.
The miss came after only seven minutes when Alan Maybury slipped a wonderful pass through the Derby defence as they tried to play offside and Hume, clear but with only the keeper to beat, dragged his shot wide.
Derby striker Mounir El Hamdaoui warned of his threat with a swerving shot which just missed Douglas's far post but after 24 minutes hesitant defending of a cross led to a feed back pass to the big striker and he smashed the ball past Douglas from 22yards.
Within three minutes Hume went from villain to hero by collecting his sixth goal of the season from another clever Maybury pass, this time slipping a defender and clipping the ball deftly past Derby keeper Lee Camp for the equaliser.
Matty Fryatt and Hume were a permanent nightmare to the big and bulky Derby defence with their, speed, control and agility with the former twice being foiled by Camp and then himself being guilty of dragging a good chance wide.
Mark Edworthy smacked a shot onto Douglas's crossbar from distance and another lob almost caught the City keeper out of position before the Scottish International was substituted at half-time by Paul Henderson because of injury.
Sadly for Henderson he didn't look a convincing alternative on the night but City did take the lead after 55 minutes when a brilliant crossfield move involving Gudjonsson and Hume led to Maybury beating Lee with a thunderous drive at the near post.
The lead lasted just two minutes however as Morten Bisgaard spun a corner hard into the City box where Derby centre-back Tomasz Hajto's header was turned into his own goal by Richard Stearman.
Camp saved from Fryatt and blocked a goalbound effort from Stephen Hughes before Hume so nearly won the match with a brilliant piece of dribbling and final shot which forced yet another excellent save just minutes from time.
It was an entertaining game for the 23,246 spectators but one that City could and should have won.
However, manager Kelly has declared that the immediate target for this season is to reach safety and City moved one more point along that path.
Hume and Fryatt showed themselves as developing into a dangerous front pairing and Maybury too was excellent in right midfield, collecting his first goal of the season in what was arguably his best game.
City: Douglas (Henderson 45), Stearman, Kisnorbo, McCarthy, Johansson, Maybury, Hughes, Gudjonsson, Sylla (Smith 64), Hume, Fryatt. Not used Gerrbrand, Williams, O'Grady.
Derby: Camp, Edworthy, Hajto, Moore, Kenna, Bisgaard (Peschisolido 82), Bolder, Barnes, Smith, El Hamdaoui (Thirlwell 38), Graham. Subs not used: Poole, Doyle, Holmes.
Booked: Hughes (City)
Graham, Bolder and Bisgaard (Derby).
Referee: Phil Crossley (Kent)
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|1. Man City||8||6||0||2||12||18|
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|3. Crystal Palace||8||5||0||3||4||15|
|4. Leicester City||8||4||3||1||2||15|
|5. West Ham||8||4||2||2||6||14|
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