Nathan Tyson late show earns Derby County a draw against Sunderland at Pride Park
NATHAN Tyson headed a late equaliser for Derby County in last night's 1-1 draw against Sunderland at Pride Park Stadium.
James McClean's strike put Sunderland ahead in the second half before Tyson, on as a substitute, found the net from Michael Hoganson's centre in the 89th minute.
Tyson failed to score last season following his move from Nottingham Forest and although this goal came in a pre-season friendly, he was clearly delighted and relieved to get his name on the scoresheet.
And his team-mates were delighted for him as they offered their congratulations.
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Tyson spent the first half of last season out injured and was deeply frustrated. Hopefully, this will provide a timely boost for him with the new season less than a week away.
Derby's line up included three of their five summer signings – Richard Keogh, Paul Coutts and Michael Jacobs.
Keogh partnered Jake Buxton at centre-back and 17-year-old Will Hughes started in a four-man midfield.
Jamie Ward was up front with Theo Robinson, who was looking to add to his four goals in pre-season.
Another of the new boys, 18-year-old Michael Hoganson, was on the bench along with triallists Valentin Gjokaj and Danny Barrera.
Derby are close to signing Swiss defender Gjokaj, while Barrera, an attacking midfielder from American club Atlanta Silverbacks, played against Belper on Tuesday night.
Player-of-the-year Craig Bryson, Gareth Roberts and James O'Connor were not risked due to niggling injuries.
The absence of Roberts and O'Connor left the Rams short of a recognised left-back and Tom Naylor filled in.
Sunderland named a strong side and they will stay in the East Midlands ahead of their friendly against Leicester City at the weekend.
Wearing their new home kit, Derby made a bright start in which Coutts was heavily involved but it was the visitors who registered the first shot on target through David Meyler, whose drive was pushed away by Frank Fielding.
This sparked a flurry of near things as both sides hit the woodwork within a minute of each other.
First, Sunderland defender Carlos Cuellar turned the ball against his own post following a pull back from Jacobs.
Sunderland responded through McClean, who offers an outlet and a threat for the Black Cats. The ball was worked to him in space and his stinging strike was tipped onto his near post by Fielding.
Both goalkeepers were kept busy in an open contest and it was a surprise the game was goalless at the break.
Coutts and Hughes looked comfortable in possession and picked out white shirts consistently, but Jeff Hendrick was loose with one or two passes and was caught in possession at times in the first half. Pre-season games are about building match fitness and sharpness ahead of the real business.
Simon Mignolet twice denied Ward, the keeper scrambling to push out low shots from the Rams striker, but Sunderland continued to pose a threat going forward.
Craig Gardner's curling effort was turned behind by Fielding, and when the keeper punched away a centre, Cuellar's scuffed shot sent the ball rolling onto the same post Sunderland had struck earlier.
Passes do go astray in these games and mistakes are made. A poor attempt at a crossfield pass by Naylor went straight to McClean and invited the winger to put Derby on the back foot three minutes before half-time.
McClean made space for himself but Fielding dealt with the drive, as he had dealt with most things Sunderland had thrown at him first half.
A clever run and shot from Hughes drew applause from the crowd and the youngster again showed he is not fazed by playing in the first team. Vision and awareness of what is around you on the pitch are good qualities to have and I cannot recall Hughes giving the ball away.
It will be fascinating to see how big a part he will play this season.
More applause came Hughes' way when he was replaced by Tyson after 63 minutes. Tyson went up front with Robinson, Ward moved to the right and Coutts joined Hendrick in central midfield.
Far fewer chances were created in the second half.
Keogh planted a header wide from a corner and then the Rams skipper produced a fine challenge to snuff out the danger as Frazier Campbell moved into the area.
Campbell threatened again when he poked the ball towards goal as Fielding advanced. Derby managed to clear but they fell behind after 71 minutes.
When Sunderland broke, substitute Kieran Richardson timed his pass to release McClean on his left. He raced into the area and his angled drive flashed underneath Fielding, who made contact with the ball but could not keep it out.
Jacobs took too long to get his shot off following a promising run across the face of Sunderland's area as Derby looked for an equaliser which came when Hoganson whipped over a fine cross from the left and Tyson headed high into the net.