Attendance: 27, 203
After the high of Tuesday came the low of Saturday and another illustration, if one was needed, of the inconsistency that is currently hitting Paul Jewell`s team. After falling behind to a stunning opening goal Derby never really recovered despite drawing level just before halftime and a poor second half gave Crystal Palace all the encouragement they needed and they duly wrapped up a 2-1 victory to hand Derby their first home defeat since the end of August. Luke Varney scored his first goal in a Derby shirt but it wasn`t enough and he is yet to taste victory after his move from Charlton despite two promising looking displays so far.
Rob Hulse dropped to the bench to make way for Luke Varney as Nathan Ellington kept his place up front after his midweek cup heroics. Nacer Barazite also returned to the side as Paul Green missed out after breaking two fingers in the midweek victory and Martin Albrechtsen returned to the bench. Crystal Palace got off to a dream start after two minutes when Paddy McCarthy launched a long range effort into the top corner from 35 yards that had Carroll beaten all ends up although his positioning could be called into question if being critical.
Derby tried to get themselves back into the game quickly but Barazite and Commons had efforts blocked and Kazmierczak hit a free-kick from just outside the area narrowly over. Commons then hit a powerful drive from 25 yards but it was straight at Speroni who was looking decidedly edgy in the visitor`s goal. Palace broke well with Scannell looking dangerous and his cross found Beattie but the striker sliced his shot well wide.
Speroni dropped another Kazmierczak corner but the ball wouldn`t sit down and Addison could only fire harmlessly over and the hapless keeper was finally punished as Derby pulled themselves level. A Kazmierczak set piece was half cleared and Tomkins headed high into the area, Speroni let the ball bounce and Varney rushed in to beat the keeper to the ball and head in and despite a last ditch clearance the ball was ruled to have already crossed the line. Palace protested on two fronts, claiming for a foul on Speroni and that the ball hadn`t crossed the line and Neil Warnock eventually earned himself a talking to by the referee for his protests.
Beattie had the half`s last chance forcing a save from Carroll and the visitors protests extended into the break as Speroni earned a booking walking down the tunnel for his complaints over the goal.
The visitor`s keeper was again looking suspect at the start of the second half as Varney charged down his attempted clearance but the ball bounced to safety and Kuqi claim close the other end but stabbed his effort wide from a promising position. Ellington glanced a header wide of the target and the visitors went back in front on the our mark as Beattie escaped down the left and played a low ball across the six yard box that Kuqi couldn`t miss from. Again there were protests over the goal as The Ram`s backline claimed for offside against Beattie but the flag stayed down and the goal stood.
A harmless ball across the area was allowed to run and Beattie snuck in round the back to force a fine save from Carroll and Connolly threw himself in front of Oster`s effort from the loose ball to block superbly. Rob Hulse was called from the bench to take over from Barazite as Derby went three up front to try and save the game but Palace were on top and providing all of the football that was being played.
Beattie had another effort on goal that went wide and, after cutting in from the right, he was brought down in the D of the area that earned Tomkins a booking and a dangerous looking free kick for the visitors. Beattie took the kick himself but his effort was deflected wide for a corner and Derby made two further changes bringing on Villa and Zadkovich for Ellington and the ineffective Commons.
Scannell created the last major chance of the game after his run set up Kuqi, the Finn`s low left foot effort from the edge of the box forcing Carroll into a good save and despite some late pressure forcing a number of corners Derby couldn`t find an equaliser and the second half finished without The Rams having a serious effort on goal as they fell to their first home defeat since 23rd August.
Stood out for his running and willingness to take players on but was starved of service in the second half as the side as a whole fell short of the standards needed to take anything from the game.
Roy Carroll 6
Paul Connolly 7
Jordan Stewart 6
James Tomkins 7
Darren Powell 6
Kris Commons 6
Miles Addison 6
Przemyslaw Kazmierczak 6
Nacer Barazite 6
Nathan Ellington 6
Luke Varney 7
Rob Hulse 6
Tito Villa 6
Ruben Zadkovich 6