Tom Ince hits winner for Stoke against Derby in fiery clash which sees Bradley Johnson bite Joe Allen
Gary Rowett was taunted by Derby fans holding inflatable snakes, but it was Tom Ince who rattled his former club.
Ince’s second-half strike completed a remarkable victory for Rowett against his old employers after Stoke played nearly an hour with ten men, following the dismissal of midfielder Peter Etebo.
Rowett was subjected to frequent hostile chants from the 3,000 Derby supporters for much of the night over his decision to walk out and join Stoke in May, despite guiding the club to the play-offs.
It was also fiery on the field, with Etebo given a straight red card for a crude lunge on Richard Keogh while Bradley Johnson appeared to sink his teeth into Joe Allen’s shirt during a huge melee.
But Rowett emerged as the winner in round one of this tussle after Ince, who left Derby last year, sentenced Frank Lampard to his first away defeat in the Championship since September.
Rowett said: “We needed to win and that was our biggest, gutsiest performance of the season.
“We’ve shown a lot of character and discipline to win and shown we can be a force in this league.”
Stoke had been on the backfoot in the early stages but took a 25th minute lead after a sustained period of pressure.
Allen’s persistence enabled him to wriggle free and he found Sam Clucas inside the area, with the £6m signing tucking the ball under Scott Carson.
Stoke’s momentum was halted when Etebo was dismissed 12 minutes before half-time, after a horrible, studs-up challenge on Keogh which led to a ugly clash between both sets of players in which Johnson appeared to bite Allen’s shoulder and was only booked.
Derby did find the equaliser in the 50th minute, with Harry Wilson bending a wonderful 20-yard free kick into the corner.
But Stoke displayed admirable resolve and secured the win after Ince turned in Clucas’ cross in the 64th minute.
Lampard said: “It’s a disappointing night us and it was there for us to win but it was difficult to break them down.”