Attendance: 30, 824
A Rob Hulse goal gave Derby County three points in a game in stark contrast to the draw with Swansea City in midweek. On Tuesday The Rams dominated the chances and could and should have won the game only to be denied by a late equaliser but here Bristol City were on top for long periods and missed a number of chances early on only to find themselves still behind. A Gavin Williams strike looked to have given his side a point only for a great run and cross from Gary Teale that found Hulse in the six yard area and he hammered home to snatch victory moments later. In truth City had the chances to have taken something from the game but four points from games against two sides pushing for the top six is a welcome return for Nigel Clough`s side and a win or two between now and the end of the season will surely see them safe.
The news that Paul Green will miss the rest of the season with a broken foot and Steve Davies` toe injury meant changes in the Derby side and Mile Sterjovski came in to the centre of midfield with Nacer Barazite returning on the right after his shoulder injury. Sterjovski was quickly involved and it was his prompting that saw the home side take the lead within 52 seconds, he won the ball in midfield before powering forward and cutting the ball back for Chris Porter to tap in from close range. City were soon on the front foot though with McAllister finding space to put in a cross only for Stern John to mess up his header and the chance passed.
Nicky Maynard broke clear on seven minutes only for Steven Bywater to make a great save as came out to meet him and he denied the visitor`s striker again moments later after good work from Orr and John set him up inside the area. Maynard was then flattened by Albrechtsen on the edge of the box and Johnson`s effort from the free kick appeared to strike Lewin Nyatanga on the arm but the referee waved away the penalty appeals and Bywater made another save before the ball was cleared. The ball was then pumped back into the box and McCombe`s looping header hit the post before rolling just in front of the line and being hacked away.
The visitor`s were well on top and Stern John skewed an effort wide from six yards from a low cross before another McCombe header looped harmlessly over as City couldn`t find the finishing touches to their attacks. A Robbie Savage free kick from the left fell to Sterjovski on the edge of the are and he was bundled off the ball to win another free kick but Savage`s second effort struck the wall before being cleared to safety.
City were soon on the attack again though with Maynard pulling the ball back for Williams but his effort was well saved again by Bywater and he grabbed another low effort by John to keep his side in front moments later. Chris Porter, who had dropped deeper to almost make a five man midfield, needed treatment after a clash on the left of midfield and he left the pitch gingerly but returned to complete the closing minutes of the half and Derby went in one goal to the good.
Andy Todd came on for Porter after the break as The Rams looked to go with five across midfield to match their visitors and Barazite made the first break of the second half only for Basso to cut out his low cross with Hulse and Savage well placed in the box. The second half had begun far more evenly but Bristol gradually imposed themselves on the game again and Stern John headed over from a McIndoe corner just before the hour mark. A Sterjovski pass then sent Hulse clear but the striker went for power over placement and his effort was straight at Basso who also blocked the follow up and he was called into action again on sixty three minutes when Barazite escaped down the right and drove in a low shot that was well kept out by the keeper.
A knock back found Williams on the edge of the area but he didn`t get enough behind his effort to trouble Bywater and The Rams were nearly handed a second goal when a ball into the corner was comfortably dealt with only for Bradley Orr to play the ball back to keeper Basso. The keeper though had come to meet the ball in the corner and the ball seemed destined for the net until he managed to get a toe to the ball to clear off the line and put it behind for a corner. Jay McEveley was replaced by Przemyslaw Kazmierczak with just over ten to go with the Pole taking up a position in midfield, Andy Todd dropping to the back and Martin Albrechtsen moving to left back.
The visitor`s pulled themselves level with eighty three minutes on the clock when another long ball forward was half cleared and Gavin Williams took a touch before firing a superb volley into the right hand corner of the net with Bywater well beaten. However, with the visiting fans still celebrating The Rams promptly went down to the other end of the pitch and went back into the lead. A free kick was only half cleared and Gary Teale skipped past his man before curling in a superb cross that allowed Hulse to hammer home from inside the six yard box to put his side back in front.
Sterjovski made way for Tito Villa with Rob Hulse dropping back into a deeper position in midfield and Teale very nearly made it three went fed by Villa in injury time put he couldn`t quite keep his effort down after a lively run. Some dogged defending in the final few minutes saw Derby determined not to give the lead away again and they held on to take all three points from the match.
ept his side in the game at times in the opening 20 minutes as City dominated, made a number of more comfortable saves second half but had no chance with the equaliser.
Stephen Bywater 9
Paul Connolly 7
Jay McEveley 7
Lewin Nyatanga 9
Martin Albrechtsen 7
Gary Teale 7
Robbie Savage 7
Mile Sterjovski 7
Nacer Barazite 6
Chris Porter 7
Rob Hulse 8
Andy Todd 7
Przemyslaw Kazmierczak 7
Tito Villa 6