Everton v Rams - Report
Rams make it sticky for Toffees
The Rams came away from Goodison Park with no reward despite their best performance on the road this year, but Everton maintained their faint hopes of fourth place Premier League finish.
The miss of the season came in the first half when Yakubu somehow stabbed over from two-yards out, but the Rams continued to scrap and a stinging David Jones drive from 25-yards forced a fine save from Everton's Tim Howard.
But Leon Osman found space to collect a Manuel Fernandes pass and thump the winner on 56 minutes, though Everton's lack of a second meant the Rams made it a tense finale.
The omens were not good for the Rams, already relegated and desperately trying to scrape another five points to pass the Premiership's lowest point`s tally of 15, held by Sunderland, as Everton had conceded only five goals in 2008 and had seven clean sheets.
The home side might have gone ahead in the opening minute when Rams defender Dean Leacock headed towards his own goal, but the ball went into the turf and just cleared the bar.
The Rams then dominated and were full of honest endeavour throughout and they hit back on the break when Mile Sterjovski's first-time angled drive was neatly pushed aside by the alert Howard.
Then Leighton Baines cross from the left somehow squeezed through a sea of players and found Yakubu on the far post, but the burly striker missed from point blank range with the goal at his mercy.
But as the hailstones belted down, Osman scored the deciding goal; he collected an astute through ball from Fernandes and drove a fierce left-foot shot past Roy Carroll from just inside the area.
Moments later Osman, on his right foot, was denied by an outstretched hand from the Northern Irish goalkeeper, who also did well to keep out a dipping 20-yarder from Fernandes.
Only the one goal down, Derby were still very much in the match and a neat dummy from Kenny Miller created a golden opportunity for Emanuel Villa.
Everton were convinced the Argentinean was offside but he was clearly on and raced through on goal, but could only prod weakly and the advancing Howard was able to block.
In the end Everton were relieved to hear the final whistle and tick off another victory, leaving them three points behind neighbours Liverpool.
Everton: Howard, Neville, Yobo, Lescott, Baines, Arteta (Nuno Valente 90), Fernandes (Jagielka 77), Carsley, Osman, Johnson, Yakubu (Anichebe 73).
Subs Not Used: Wessels, Gravesen.
Goals: Osman 56.
Derby County: Carroll, Todd, Leacock, Moore, Lewis, Sterjovski (Mears 50), Ghaly, Savage, Jones, Villa, Miller.
Subs Not Used: Price, McEveley, Earnshaw, Feilhaber.
Booked: Todd, Ghaly, Savage.
Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands).
Derby manager Paul Jewell:
'If we'd played like that all season we probably wouldn't be where we are.
'For passing and movement we were excellent, we just didn't have the killer pass. We didn't have the quality at times but I couldn't ask for more from the players.
'We pushed Everton all the way and I'm pleased with the performance, just disappointed not to get something out of the game.
'It was not a terrific display, but we have had some great performances at home this season and are still in with a shout.
'We are optimistic; we believe we can still catch Liverpool.
'That's 60 points and we have won 18 games in the Premier League, and with five to go we can end with a very healthy tally in an excellent position.'