Jewell gorges on crumbs of comfort

PAUL JEWELL must be the only Premier League manager that views a fortuitous draw against a struggling Championship side as a step in the right direction.

But Jewell is so desperate to find a spark to energise Derby’s seemingly futile battle against relegation that the Rams manager believes it could ensure a transformation in fortune for his shattered players.

It looked as if Jewell was heading for more agony after 23 minutes when Wednesday, in trouble in their own division, raced into a two-goal lead.

Two calamitous errors conspired to give Wednesday dreams of becoming the latest team to secure a Premier League scalp but two late goals in the first half, and an improved second half performance, were enough for embattled Jewell to see the positives.

He said: ‘‘We are looking for any crumb of comfort because of the situation we’re in at the moment.

‘‘And while on reflection a draw against a struggling Championship side probably isn’t a great result, we were staring down the barrel at 2-0 down and have come back to still be in the hat.

‘‘We’d have lost this game heavily a month ago but we showed good character to come back. We made the usual basic errors for both their goals but I’m going to take the positives out of this.’’

It looked ominous when Lewis Price inexplicably allowed Mark Beevers’ volley to squirm under his body before a Darren Moore header gave Marcus Tudgay an easy volley.

But Jewell was finally given some cause for optimism when Kenny Miller struck seven minutes before half-time, pouncing on Craig Fagan’s deflected cross to drive home.

Then Barnes capitalised on defensive hesitancy to hammer a shot into the corner as the interval loomed.

Derby almost secured their first win in 16 matches 17 minutes from time but Lee Grant brilliantly kept out Miller’s close-range effort to set up a replay a week on Tuesday.

Brian Laws, their manager, said: ‘‘I’ve got to be disappointed because we were leading 2-0 and we knew that Derby have not won this season after going a goal down.

‘‘When you’re more than a goal ahead of course you think your luck is in. Both teams had a right good go in the second half and both wanted to win it.’’

DERBY (4-4-2): Price 4, Mears 4 (Johnson 32, 6), Mills 6, Moore 3, Todd 4; Oakley 4, Teale 4 (Macken 84, 5) Barnes 6, Lewis 4, Fagan 6, Miller 6. Subs Not Used:

Hinchcliffe, Edworthy, Feilhaber.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (4-4-2): Grant 6, Bullen 7, Spurr 6, Hinds 6, Beevers 7, Whelan 8, Johnson 6, O’Brien 7, Esajas 7. Tudgay 7, Jeffers 6 (Burton 60, 6). Subs Not Used:

Gilbert, McAllister, Wood, Boden.

REFEREE: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire) 7: The referee may not be Paul Jewell’s favourite official after falling foul of him while in charge at Wigan but he wouldn’t have irritated the Derby manager this time.

MATCH RATING: *** Derby still cannot find a win from anywhere and should have been out of sight before half-time. Wednesday fully deserved their replay.

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