Small price to pay for jamie Ward as he honours charity pledge to old pal Billy Sharp
JAMIE Ward left Pride Park Stadium on Saturday with his sixth goal of the season – but a slightly lighter wallet.
Ward's 52nd-minute strike cancelled out Chris Cohen's opener to earn Derby County a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest.
As well as securing a point for the Rams, the Northern Ireland international's goal will also benefit a charity launched by Forest striker Billy Sharp.
Sharp and Ward became good friends during their time together at Sheffield United.
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The pair remain close and Ward pledged that if he scored against Forest, he would make a donation to the LJS Foundation, set up in memory of Sharp's son Luey, who died as a result of a rare condition called Gastroschisis only two days after being born in October 2011.
The LJS Foundation aims to raise funds for medical research into the condition and to support families affected by it.
"Me and Billy became good friends at Sheffield United and stuck together since going our separate ways," said Ward.
"We're very close – we even go on holiday together – and he's a good friend in the game. I said that if I scored, I would donate £250 to the foundation for his little boy, Luey.
"It was a tragic thing to happen. It's always nice to give something back, especially when we're as close as we are.
"It's brilliant that I'm able to do something to help the charity out."
Sharp had the ball in the net himself with the last kick of the game but the flag was already up for a foul on Derby defender Gareth Roberts.
Ward added: "I'm glad he didn't score, otherwise I wouldn't have heard the end of it!"
Ward was handed his first start since the end of September, when he suffered a torn hamstring in the 1-0 win against Forest at the City Ground.
He got through more than an hour before being replaced by Theo Robinson in the 67th minute.
"There was nothing wrong," he said. "I was just stiffening up a bit, which is understandable as I've not played much football in the past few months.
"It was what I expected to happen."
Ward thanked team-mate Conor Sammon for his part in the Derby equaliser.
Sammon dispossessed Simon Gillett before picking out Ward, who coolly slotted home.
"Sammo did very well to get the ball for the goal," said the 26-year-old.
"He's a good striker to play with. He's a big man who can hold the ball up and bully defenders.
"He deserves a lot of credit for putting the chance on a plate for me.
"And I stuck it in the net, which is the hardest thing in football to do."
Ward felt that, in the end, a draw was a fair result.
"Obviously, we didn't want to lose the game," he said. "That was important to everyone at the club, so it was good to get a point.
"We've showed a lot of character this season, when we've come back into games.
"We're never afraid of going behind, because we know we've got goals in us. We were strong and got back into the game.
"When they got their goal, it deflated us a bit because we were doing all right until then but we came back out and got the equaliser.
"I think everyone is happy with a point and it was probably a fair result."
More information about the LJS Foundation can be found at www.ljsfoundation.org.uk