Russell on target but Derby must settle for a draw

JOHNNY Russell made a scoring start on his competitive debut for Derby County as his new club were held to a 1-1 draw by Blackburn Rovers at Pride Park yesterday.

The former Dundee United star, who moved south suring the summer, was given the role of penalty-taker by the east Midlands club and duly obliged from the spot to give them the lead late in 43rd minute.

Alex Marrow handled the ball while challenging Jake Buxton following Jamie Ward’s dangerous free-kick and Russell, sent Rovers goalkeeper Jake Kean the wrong way. It was a spot of relief for the Rams who had missed their previous four penalties.

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However, Blackburn substitute Leon Best rescued a late point for the visitors and denied Derby a winning start to the new Sky Bet Championship campaign.

Best, who came on as a replacement for the injured Ruben Rochina – who had been treated on the pitch for five minutes before being been carried off during the first half – guided a close-range volley past Lee Grant with two minutes remaining.

In truth, it was arguably what Rovers deserved having created the better chances - particularly in the first half.

The game was one of six fixtures this weekend hand-picked by the Football League to mark its 125th anniversary celebrations.