Rams grind out another win
Attendance: 28, 495
A below par performance from Derby County couldn`t prevent their unbeaten run being extended to seven games with a come from behind victory against Plymouth Argyle to push The Rams into the top ten for the first time this season. Paul Gallagher scored a superb first half goal to give the visitors the lead from nowhere but the growing belief around Pride Park meant heads didn`t drop on the pitch and the fans got behind the team and a moment of magic from Kris Commons set up the equaliser just before the break before a deflected winner five minutes into the second half gave Derby the win. Plymouth upped their game in the final fifteen minutes but couldn`t find the equaliser despite coming close a couple of times and Derby held on to leave themselves ninth in the table and only one point from the play-off places as they ground out the win.
Stephen Bywater and Claude Davis came in for the suspended Roy Carroll and Dean Leacock and Nathan Ellington got the start ahead of Tito Villa after his goal scoring performance at Carrow Road last time out and Ruben Zadkovich was named amongst the substitutes for the first time this season alongside the returning Kris Commons. The opening minutes of the game were scrappy with neither side able to keep hold of possession for long or create chances despite some promising positions. Plymouth took the lead on eight minutes with a stunning goal out of nothing from Paul Gallagher, a long clearance from Larrieu in the visitors goal was only half cleared by Nyatanga and as the ball bounced the on loan Blackburn striker hit a dipping volley from thirty yards that beat Bywater into the top right hand corner and stunned the home crowd into silence.
The Rams were starting to push the visitors back and were seeing more of the ball and Paul Connolly helped create the home side`s first chance with a cross met by Rob Hulse but the striker couldn`t keep his header down and the ball sailed harmlessly over the bar. Paul Jewell was forced into his first change of the match after sixteen minutes when Steven Davis went down after winning a header in the box, after a short period of treatment he was replaced by Kris Commons and went straight to hospital for an x-ray on a suspected fractured cheekbone.
The game entered another scrappy period with the ball not sticking at either end with only a mishit Addison effort and a looping Ellington header to speak of in terms of efforts on goal although the physical battle between Rory Fallon and Claude Davies kept the interest of the fans. Commons and Barazite switched sides in an effort to create more for The Rams allowing them both to turn back out onto their strong side to fire over crosses but there were still no clear cut chances for the strike force. This soon changed when Miles Addison fed Commons down the right and the Scotland international beat three men before cutting the ball back from the touchline for Hulse who let the ball roll across his body before firing into the far corner with his left foot to level the scores on the stroke of half-time.
Derby started strongly after the break and they took the lead five minutes into the second half from a corner that Plymouth failed to clear fully. The ball dropped in front of Paul Green on the edge of the box and he fired a volley that Larrieu got his finger tips to but couldn`t keep out as the ball hit the post and went in off Karl Duguid as Ellington looked set to pounce. The Rams continued to see the majority of the possession as they pushed the visitors back and Commons had the chance from a free kick just outside the area but his shot took a deflection off the wall and was easily gathered by Larrieu.
The flow of the game was disrupted with a rash of substitutions from both sides, firstly Marin replaced Mackie for the visitors before Barker replaced Patterson and Tito Villa came on for Nathan Ellington for The Rams. Kazmierczak then became Paul Jewell`s final change of the game coming on for Commons who had picked up a kick on his knee. Plymouth were beginning to gain more possession as they looked to get back in the game and Duguid forced Bywater into a sharp save down to his left when he reached a knock-down from a long ball first to get his volley in ahead of Addison but The Rams keeper was alert to the danger and Stewart completed the clearance to deny The Pilgrims` captain.
Plymouth made their final change of the afternoon bringing on Emile Mpenza for Clark and the Belgian strikers energy seemed to push his side on and Bywater nearly handed them a lifeline when he came for a cross from the left only to drop the ball, as the ball was headed sideways leaving the keeper stranded Fallon glanced his header towards the far corner but Davies ushered the ball wide. Marin and Fallon again came close with headers from crosses but Derby held out to claim all three points and climb above their opponents in the table.
Improving game by game and looks back to somewhere near his best with another hard working performance and scoring for the second game in a row. Held the ball up well and won a number of flick-on's against the visitors defence and took his opportunity well when set up by Commons at the end of the first half.
Stephen Bywater 7
Paul Connolly 7
Jordan Stewart 7
Claude Davies 7
Lewin Nyatanga 7
Nacer Barazite 6
Miles Addison 7
Paul Green 7
Steven Davies 6
Rob Hulse 8
Nathan Ellington 7
Kris Commons 7
Tito Villa 7
Przemyslaw Kazmierczak 6