Cardiff put on a spirited second half display to fight back from 2-0 down to win in added time, putting Derby’s play off chances into massive doubt.
After fighting back from the brink of defeat themselves on Saturday, Derby began the game strongly and were two up in 17 minutes. The score was opened when Alex Pearce’s header was saved before falling to Julien de Sart who tapped in from four yards. It was 2-0 ten minutes later, a misplaced Tom Ince shot fell to Darren Bent who kept his composure to finish past Cardiff keeper Allan McGregor.
Though the Rams dominated much of the first half, they failed to get a third goal, this came costly as Cardiff got one back just before the break. Bluebirds winger Kadeem Harris hit a looping shot from around 20 yards over Derby keeper Scott Carson and into the back of the net.
Less than two minutes into the second half the away side were level. After Derby failed to clear a long throw in, Harris was again on hand to finish for his second of the game. The frustration of the Derby fans was soon compounded further when Craig Noone curled an effort from around 25 yards into the bottom left corner, completing an incredible comeback for his side.
The pendulum then swung the other way as the Rams got an equaliser. Marcus Olsson put in an inviting cross from the left side which was headed home brilliantly by Darren Bent who beat two Cardiff defenders to score at Pride Park for the fourth time in two games.
As the Rams pressed for a winner they were quickly countered as the game took its final twist. Less than a minute into added time, Cardiff substitute Rhys Healey was tripped in the box by Alex Pearce leaving Joe Ralls to step up and score the resulting penalty to seal a brilliant victory for the heroic Bluebirds.
The defeat leaves Derby 11th, eight points behind the play offs and only five points above Cardiff who after beating the Rams moved up to twelfth. It also meant they missed out on the chance to do the double over Cardiff for the first time since the 1985/86 season.
Derby boss Steve McClaren speaking post match:
Cardiff boss Neil Warnock speaking post match:
When we sat 22nd in September, I certainly didn’t think we would ever be anywhere near where we are now at any point this season. From now we should just go for it in every game and see what we can do, we have nothing to lose. If we don’t get top six, we make some strong signings in the summer and look to push on under McClaren next season.
Now there is a week to prepare for the next game, again at Pride Park, against Nigel Clough’s relegation battling Burton Albion.