Middlesbrough 2-1 Derby: Late Zemmama strike nicks vital win
Published 22:37 08/03/11 By Simon Bird
Merouane Zemmama grabbed the winner to reward Boro’s lowest-ever Riverside league crowd.
The Moroccan midfielder, signed on a free transfer in January, blasted home from 18 yards in the 88th minute to cap a brave fightback by Tony Mowbray’s men.
Zemmama opened his account for the Teessiders to condemn Derby to another defeat and relieve their own relegation worries.
It was a fine comeback.
With the game drifting, a goal from Seb Hines gave Boro a lifeline in front of just 13,712 fans.
The die-hards has been made to suffer until the 73rd minute. Then, Tony McMahon’s free-kick was headed at the goal by Hines and unlucky John Brayford could only help the clearance into his own net.
Zemmama become an instant hero as Mowbray’s men threw bodies forward and finally scored the winner at the death – instead of their usual habit of throwing points away at the end.
Nigel Clough’s side were left angry that Boro were not down to 10 men for the last hour.
On-loan Jamie Ward opened the scoring with his first goal for Derby. The striker notched a penalty in the 32nd minute, after a controversial incident which should have seen Boro’s Nicky Bailey sent off.
Bailey prevented a clear goal-scoring opportunity by tugging down Theo Robinson, who raced clear on to Miles Addison’s through pass.
Referee Karl Evans awarded the spot-kick, but only showed Bailey yellow.
Five years ago today, the Riverside was packed out to see the club overcome Roma in the UEFA Cup.
Last night, empty red seats replaced fans as the club faced up to harsh, new realities and a crashing fall from the big time.
There was the usual toil on the pitch from Boro’s heftily rewarded players, most of whom will be ditched in the summer as the club slashes its wage bill.
Hines forced the only save either keeper had to make in the first half-hour, heading Barry Robson’s cross goalward for Frank Fielding to save comfortably.
Derby thought they had stretched their lead when Chris Porter headed home, but he was ruled offside.
Scott McDonald tested Fielding with a 30-yard volley and Rhys Williams had a header cleared off the line before the Derby defence fell apart under pressure.