Manager Paul Hughes made three changes to the starting XI that had brought a point back from Silver Jubilee Park on Tuesday evening. Jake Sheppard, Dylan Kearney and Sanmi Odelusi coming in with Rico Greco and Jordan Norville-Williams dropping to the bench while Bay Downing missed out through injury.
United started off quickly by creating an opening in just the fourth minute when a Jake Sheppard cross from the right side was inadvertently flicked beyond the far post to Keano Robinson but he could not keep his shot down, although sadly this early threat was not to be sustained by the visitors.
The hosts looked assured at the back and had some pace up front but in the opening twenty minutes rarely troubled the United defence with the only shot on target in the opening 20 minutes coming from United on 18 minutes when Karl Cunningham picked out Dylan Kearney around the right corner of the area, the strikers’ first time volley being held by Adam Forster in the Rams goal.
21 minutes had passed when veteran former United striker Jefferson Louis received the ball and held it well just outside the United box, he then rolled it smartly to the incoming Charlie Losasso who connected well only for his effort to go wide of Jack Smith’s upright although the United stopper appeared to have it covered anyway.
Just beyond the half hour mark Kearney had another chance as Sheppard played a corner short to Scott Donnelly, he fed the ball to Kearney inside the box but his drive was too high to trouble Forster.
Five minutes later Smith needed to be alert as Rams skipper Jordan Ajanlekoko chipped the ball in from the right side, the United stopper reacting quickly to dive down onto the ball as Losasso closed in looking to open the scoring.
One further half chance for United came just before the break a Kearney received the ball 25 yards from goal, easily drove past Ajanlekoko before firing inches wide from 20 yards out and the half then closed out without the scorer being troubled.
As seems to be customary at the moment, Paul Hughes made a change at the re-start with Jordan Norville-Williams replacing Jack Williams on the left side of the defence.
Within two minutes of the re-start both sides could have opened the scoring. First off for United, Sheppard crossed the ball in from the right side, Luke Neville headed it clear but only as far as Sanmi Odelusi who brought the ball down coolly on his chest and struck a volley that Forster plucked out of the air. The Rams stopper launched the ball to the other end of the field where Louis controlled the ball for a shot that Sheppard did well to block wide. The corner kick was met in the middle by Jerome Eccleston but his powerful header was just wide of the post when he must feel he should have done better.
The final 30 minutes saw one major opening for the home side but very little in the way of serious threat from United. On the hour Smith safely held a Louis header after the striker had met a Minhas cross from the right and just a couple of minutes later Losasso drove a 20 yard free-kick past the wall but Smith was equal to this too, diving to punch the effort away.
With just four minutes remaining the Rams must have thought they had nicked maximum points, twice. Losasso fired in a corner that was met firmly by an unmarked Ecclestone, the goalbound effort being pushed in the air by the quick reactions of Smith and as the ball dropped Ajanlekoko’s close range header was cleared off the line via the head of an unsuspecting Sheppard with the danger finally being cleared by the United defence.
Following this threat neither side really looked like breaking the deadlock and the points were shared in a scoreless encounter.
Report by Kevin Watts.
United Man of the Match: Scott Donnelly.
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