Attendance: 28, 390
A bright start gave way to another disappointing day at Pride Park as Nigel Clough`s tenure as Derby manager got off to a poor start. After a promising opening 20 minutes Queens Park Rangers took the lead against the run of play and Wayne Routledge began to show his quality down the right before setting up a second and despite looking shaky at the back the visitor`s held on fairly comfortably to take three points back to London and leave The Ram`s only two points clear of the drop zone. The brittle confidence of Clough`s men was clearly demonstrated as two fortunate breaks handed Rangers the lead and suddenly the initial brightness was forgotten and they looked nervy and unable to string together many moves of real quality.
Clough made three changes to the team who beat Manchester United last time out with Albrechtsen coming in for the suspended Connolly, Luke Varney replacing Steve Davies and playing up front alongside Rob Hulse and a surprise recall for Giles Barnes on the right in place of Mile Sterjovski. Miles Addison dominated midfield in the opening period of the match and his ball to Barnes led to the youngster`s cross being cleared from just in front of Varney and another ball into the area from the right saw Cerny save well from a right foot volley by Commons as the home side looked to get their noses in front.
Rangers were forced into the games first change on 11 minutes as Rowlands went down after a tussle with Addison and was eventually stretchered off although the exact nature of his injury was unclear. Cerny claimed a free kick by Commons and Barnes then broke clear down the right and, with yards of space, took way to much time with his cross allowing Delaney to come back and block.
The visitor`s took the lead totally against the run of play on 21 minutes in virtually their first attack, Ephraim played the ball into the area but Albrechtsen got back well to rob Helguson only for his half-clearance across the area to fall to Wayne Routledge beyond the far post and the Rangers winger smashed it into the net to give his side the lead. Derby struggled to make any impact on the game as their confidence had clearly taken a knock and it got worse on 35 minutes as Routledge was again involved. His run down the right looked to have been foiled as Camara slid in with a challenge but the ball broke again for the Rangers man and he cut back for Mikele Leigertwood to take and touch and fire past Carroll.
Lee Cook made space for himself on the edge of the area but fired his effort straight at Carroll who grabbed the ball again just in front of Helguson as he looked to pounce on any rebound. Derby were sloppy in possession and made no further chances as the game petered out to halftime with the visitors two goals ahead.
Derby strung together a superb move at the start of the second half with Albrechtsen clipping over a superb cross that was met at full speed by Miles Addison who flung himself at the cross only to see his diving header turned around the post by Cerny. Paul Green had another effort from 25 yards that didn`t trouble the Rangers keeper and Derby were still struggling to make an impact on the game as Rangers defended in numbers and looked to hit The Rams on the break.
Steve Davies came on for Luke Varney after 58 minutes and although Derby were looking to get into dangerous areas they weren`t creating any real chances although Rob Hulse had a header cleared off the line from a Barnes corner before Barazite came on for the midfielder after 69 minutes. Ephraim then broke away at the other end but Carroll reacted superbly to parry his shot into the air and catch the rebound.
Davies hit a dipping effort from outside the area to the right of goal that flashed past the far post without ever looking like it was on target and he had another effort moments later after a run from a Commons pass but Cerny, although at full stretch, gathered comfortably and despite some late possession The Ram`s couldn`t create any further chances and fell to a two goal defeat.
nother solid performance at the back and read the game, distributed the ball well with a booking the only mark against his performance.
Roy Carroll 6
Martin Albrechtsen 6
Mo Camara 5
Andy Todd 7
Lewin Nyatanga 6
Kris Commons 6
Miles Addison 6
Paul Green 6
Giles Barnes 6
Luke Varney 6
Rob Hulse 6
Steve Davies 6
Nacer Barazite 6