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Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Saturday, 29 March 2008

Derby 2-2 Fulham

By Phil McNulty

Roy Carroll
Derby keeper Roy Carroll is beaten by Hameur Bouazza's strike

Derby's relegation from the Premier League was confirmed as they could only draw at home to struggling Fulham.

Tito Villa deflected in Dean Leacock's shot to give Derby the lead after 10 minutes, but Diomansy Kamara's header put Fulham level 14 minutes later.

Fulham went back in front 12 minutes from time when Hameur Bouazza's shot deflected in off the unwitting Leacock.

Derby at least showed spirit to level two minutes later, Villa heading his second from Mile Sterjovski's cross.

But, with Birmingham beating Manchester City, Derby's brief stay in the top flight was over.

Derby knew that after a lingering Premiership demise, they were finally staring relegation in the face - but they received a boost by going ahead after 10 minutes.

Leacock's 25-yard drive was speculative at best, but it struck Villa inside the area and left Fulham keeper Kasey Keller totally wrong-footed.


Keller had to be alert to clutch a curling drive from David Jones after 23 minutes - and it proved vital as Fulham levelled seconds later.

Davies was the provider with the perfect cross from the right, and Kamara stole in to head powerfully past Roy Carroll.

Keller was in action again shortly after Kamara's goal, racing out to the feet of striker Kenny Miller as he closed in on Jones' pass.

It was the Scotland star's final meaningful contribution as limped off after 35 minutes to be replaced by Robert Earnshaw.

Fulham's set piece expert Bullard has wasted two opportunities from free-kicks, but he almost put his side ahead after 53 minutes with a left-foot shot that clipped the bar after he had been fouled by Hossam Ghaly.

There had been moments of entertainment amid the mediocrity, and Earnshaw almost took advantage of an ill-judged dash out of goal by Keller, but was just off target from an acute angle.

But Derby's luck was out with 12 minutes left when, after Carroll saved well from Kamara, Bouazza's shot took a wild deflection off Leacock and flew over the Derby keeper.

Derby's spirit was demonstrated, however, when they equalised two minutes later when Villa rose to head Mile Sterjovski's cross past Keller.

But there was to be no late reprieve and the Rams must now start planning for next season.

  • Fulham manager Roy Hodgson:

  • "We could have won it - and, of course, we're all disappointed at having scored a late goal which could have easily have been the winner only to let Derby straight back.

    "Next week we must look for a much-needed win over Sunderland - and if we get that who knows? Every time we get a win people say we'll make it, and every time we lose people say we're doomed. I'm getting quite used to it.

    "We won't be the last team to commit the cardinal sin of conceding a goal just after scoring. It's something we as coaches preach and warn players about - but it is an emotional game."

    Derby: Carroll, Todd (Mears 89), Leacock, Moore, Lewis, Sterjovski, Ghaly, Savage, Jones, Miller (Earnshaw 36), Villa.
    Subs Not Used: Price, Feilhaber, Beardsley.

    Booked: Todd, Jones.

    Goals: Villa 10, 80. Fulham: Keller, Stalteri, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Bullard (Murphy 81), Andreasen, Bouazza (Johnson 81), McBride, Kamara.
    Subs Not Used: Warner, Bocanegra, Dempsey.

    Booked: Bouazza, Andreasen, Konchesky, Kamara.

    Goals: Kamara 24, Leacock 78 og.

    Att: 33,034

    Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Derby's Tito Villa 7.80 (on 90 minutes).

    Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

    see also
    Jewell laments 'terrible season'
    29 Mar 08 |  Derby County
    Where do woeful Derby rank?
    29 Mar 08 |  Derby County
    Premier League as it happened
    29 Mar 08 |  Premier League
    How to watch Match of the Day
    08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day
    Saturday's football photos
    29 Mar 08 |  Football

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