Ward brace gives Derby win

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 1:26

Ward brace gives Derby win

The hosts went ahead through Ben Marshall’s fortuitous effort, but the Rams rallied and claimed a half-time lead thanks to strikes from Ward and Will Hughes.
And Ward, back in the team following a hamstring injury, struck again after the interval before Rudy Gestede pulled one back during a thrilling finale to the Rams’ 3-2 win, with Steve McClaren’s men continuing an impressive opening first few weeks following their play-off final heartache at Wembley last May.
Marshall had scored a second-half brace in the final 37 minutes of Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Wigan, and it took him just 51 seconds here to find the net again.
The former Leicester midfielder had already sent a volley over and was clearly in confident mood as he shot from distance once more, with the ball looping up off Richard Keogh’s sliding block and beyond goalkeeper Lee Grant.
Derby were not shaken, though, and Rovers conceded for an 11th straight game just eight minutes later. Northern Ireland international Ward blazed into the roof of the net from close range after Craig Bryson’s effort fell kindly into his path.
The open nature of the contest continued as Simon Dawkins’ meandering run culminated in a Bryson shot which just whistled over Paul Robinson’s crossbar.
The visitors continued to look slick in midfield and unsurprisingly went ahead through the impressive Hughes eight minutes prior to the interval.
Ward found the teenager from the left flank and Hughes was afforded space on the edge of the area, shifting the ball on to his favoured left foot before planting an effort past Robinson’s reach.
Blackburn were simply failing to keep tabs on the England Under-21 international and Chris Martin almost added another when volleying over Hughes’ expertly flighted cross.
Half-time gave Gary Bowyer’s men a chance to regroup, and in the early stages of the second period Gestede tested Grant while Marshall’s dinked cross landed on the roof of the net.
However, the Rams would extend their lead before the hour through another Ward goal.
Seconds after a soft decision was awarded against Jordan Rhodes, referee David Webb was unperturbed as Ward barged into Craig Conway, moved forward and curled a left-footed effort into the far corner.
Marshall drilled an effort just wide as Rovers sought an immediate response while Ward, now sensing a hat-trick, drew Robinson into a smart stop.
Any hopes of a personal treble ended when Ward was substituted and Blackburn soon found another gear to ensure a tense finish.
Grant Hanley’s prod was stopped by Grant at point-blank before Zak Whitbread cleared away the danger, but Rovers would not be denied in their next attack as Gestede managed to steer a finish inside the near post with 12 minutes remaining.
The hosts laid siege to the visitors’ goal as Tom Cairney’s drive was tipped over by Grant and the ex-Hull midfielder, Gestede and Corry Evans would all go close in the dying stages.
And Rovers came inches away from a late leveller, Gestede’s downward header being turned on to the woodwork by substitute Omar Mascarell in stoppage time.

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