Reds battle terrifically but are edged out by the Rams 2-1 at Pride Park.
Barnsley produced a strong showing against play-off hopefuls Derby County, but were edged out 2-1 by the Rams at Pride Park.
A trio of Adam Armstrong chances brought three good saves out of Scott Carson early on, with Tom Ince’s chip just wide the best response the Rams could muster.
The Reds broke the deadlock seven minutes into the second half when Marc Roberts long throw was powered home by Matty James’ head, but Derby levelled through Ince less than two minutes later.
David Nugent netted what proved to be the winner when he fired past Adam Davies with the help of a deflection 14 minutes from time, after turning away from his marker.
The Reds almost nicked a point in stoppage time when substitute Ryan Kent let fly, but Scott Carson stood firm to deny the winger from a tight angle.
Adam Armstrong manufactured a chance out of nothing, controlling Matty James’ excellent pass and bending and effort toward goal, with Scott Carson getting everything behind it to save.
Armstrong was proving a real livewire and fashioned another chance shortly after, this time collecting Tom Bradshaw’s through ball and pulling his effort just wide of the mark. Just past the quarter hour mark, the Newcastle loanee broke free again, bringing a low save out of Carson at his near post with the Rams clearing the resulting corner.
The Reds continued to apply the pressure, Adam Hammill was upended on the edge of the area but fired the resulting free kick into the wall and bringing another save from Carson with a low drive midway through the half. Derby’s first real opportunity came when Johnny Russell’s teasing cross from the right flashed across the face of goal, with David Nugent unable to turn it home.
A crunching challenge from Andy Yiadom on Julien De Sart brought the first yellow card of the game shortly before the half hour before Derby fashioned another chance through Russell.
He escaped Yiadom and drifted inside, with Adam Davies standing up well to deny him, and producing another fine save seconds later to keep out a driven 25-yard De Sart shot.
Russell teed up Tom Ince, who chipped just over the top corner of the goal from the corner of the area as the first half drew to a close, with the Reds the stronger of the two sides.
HALF TIME: Derby County 0-0 Barnsley.
The Rams introduced Jacob Butterfield at half time in place of De Sart and it changed the Rams’ dynamic, with Cyrus Christie’s outside of the foot shot flying just wide of the far post four minutes after the restart.
Despite that scare, it was the Reds who took the lead seven minutes after the restart when Marc Roberts’ long throw was met by the head of Matty James, leaving Carson rooted and the ball in the far corner of the net.
Just over a minute after taking the lead, the Rams were level as David Nugent teed up Tom Ince from Christie’s cross, and the midfielder fired past Adam Davies.
Josh Scowen received a booking for bringing down Russell in full flight on the edge of the area, with Ince’s dipping free kick forcing another strong save out of Davies. Scowen’s ambitious long drive after Hammill’s corner was spilled flew wide, with Matej Vydra’s header suffering a similar fate moments later.
Davies was forced to tip Ince’s drive onto the post and away, before producing his best save of the afternoon, push Russell’s dipping shot just over crossbar.
The Rams took the lead for the first time in the contest when Gethin Jones’ header clear was lofted back into the area by Vydra, with Nugent’s deflected effort wrong footing Davies and trickling into the corner.
Reds substitute Alex Mowatt was called into action within minutes of coming off the bench to clear a header off the line, while fellow substitute Ryan Kent was upended out on the flank.
Hammill swung a dangerous ball into the mix, but Carson clawed it away under pressure from Roberts. A late save from Davies prevented Will Hughes from increasing Derby’s advantage, and the Reds nearly nicked it in stoppage time as Roberts nodded down for Kent, but Carson stood firm to deny him.
Attendance: 30,280 (2,500 away).
Derby County: Carson (GK), Christie, Baird, Pearce (c), Olsson, De Sart (Butterfield, 46’ ), Johnson, Russell (Hughes, 78’ ), Ince, Vydra (Anya, 84’ ), Nugent.
Subs: Mitchell (GK), Bryson, Camara, Bennett.
Reds: Davies (GK), Jones, Roberts (c), MacDonald, Yiadom, Watkins, Scowen (Lee, 87’ ), James, Hammill, Bradshaw (Kent, 75’ ), Armstrong (Mowatt, 75’ ).
Subs: Townsend (GK), Moncur, A. Jackson, Elder.