Draw delights Royle

EVEN having a goal ruled out against his side for offside could not temper Joe Royle's delight at the way his side performed to get a draw at Derby County last night.

By Derek Davis

EVEN having a goal ruled out against his side for offside could not temper Joe Royle's delight at the way his side performed to get a draw at Derby County last night.

Old stager Jim Magilton scored one and made one, while Matt Richards nodded in a late equaliser for the Blues, after on-loan Southampton striker Dexter Blackstock and Marcus Tudgay had twice given the Rams the lead.

A refreshed looking Blues took the initiative in a rip-roaring encounter but were happy to take home a point.

Royle said: “It was a great game for the neutrals and signs of us creaking back to our dangerous best.

“We were very dangerous and might have scored a couple more in the first half.

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“We defended too deep but you can't fault the spirit of the team to come back and get a point. And don't forget, we still have four first-teamers out injured.”

Dean McDonald and Jimmy Juan were handed rare starts, while Richards, who told the EADT yesterday he fancied getting his third Town goal, pleased Royle.

He said: “I was delighted with the point and the youngsters like Dean McDonald and Jimmy Juan will benefit from the experience.

“Matt Richards was excellent in the job he was given to do.

“He kept Idiakez quiet and then got away from him towards the end in spectacular fashion to score.”

But his highest praise was reserved for 36-year-old skipper Magilton.

Royle said: “Jim has done brilliant, the best player on the pitch. Not just with his goals, but the way he played all night and, even in the 90th minute, he is defending on his own halfway line.

“If only we had a 26-year-old Jim Magilton to stay with us for years to come.”

But it was a goal that never stood that irked Royle, after Sam Parkin was ruled offside and later booked.

Royle said: “I don't think anyone knows the offside rule anymore, it seems to change by referee. It looked a good goal to me.”

He was also unhappy at the treatment Parkin was getting from the Derby defenders and angered even more when the striker was booked for an isolated tackle.

Royle said: “I have just seen a player booked for consistently being battered in the back and tackled from behind, which I have not seen before.”

Darren Currie was surprisingly dropped to the bench, which Royle explained was part of his three-game plan. And he added: “Darren has not been playing as well away from home of late, so we thought he could do with a rest.

“We wanted the athleticism that the young Deans give us either side of Sam and it worked well.”

Derby boss Phil Brown enthused about the finishing of 19-year-old Blackstock, who is attracting huge Premiership interest, with many of the 28 scouts watching him, while Dean Bowditch is also a target.

“We have nicknamed them the solicitors 'the Blackstock and Tudgay Combination',” said Brown.

“They were very impressive and were very unlucky not to finish on the winning side. But we also suffered from poor defending before the set pieces by giving away silly free- kicks. Magilton is a great exponent of the dead ball and he showed it.”

There was concern for goal hero Richard Naylor, who finished the game limping with a knee injury after landing awkwardly.

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