Palace Edge It
Attendance: 12, 760
Derby County put in an improved display but it was not enough to prevent a fourth defeat on the trot as they fell to a single goal defeat at Selhurst Park. Darren Ambrose was allowed too much room inside the penalty area to get on the end of a Sean Derry header ten minutes into the second half and he beat Stephen Bywater to give his side all three points. A man of the match display by Julian Speroni in the home goal kept The Rams at bay after a moment of controversy when he intentionally handled outside the area, the referee deemed it only worthy of a yellow card and he went on to secure a clean sheet with a number of fine saves.
James Vaughan started the match 24 hours after joining on a three month loan from Everton whilst Dean Leacock made his first start in ten months in place of Shaun Barker with the former Blackpool man dropping down to the bench alongside Kris Commons who made way for Vaughan.
The loanee had the first effort of the match when good work down the right by Lee Croft on five minutes saw his cross pick out Vaughan bit his acrobatic effort did not trouble Speroni in the home goal and sailed harmlessly over. The Rams were enjoying the lions` share of possession in a tight game and Palace keeper Julian Speroni was a touch lucky to remain on the pitch on eighteen minutes after deliberate handball outside of his area. The keeper found himself outside the area and under pressure from Vaughan and he decided that picking the ball up was the option despite clearly knowing he was outside the box. The referee judged it only worthy of a yellow card and the Argentine then saved Gary Teale`s free kick into the area touching it behind for a corner.
Rob Hulse fed Livermore down the right and his shot from just inside the area was well turned away again by Speroni and Palace had an opportunity at the other end when Ertl met a corner inside the six yard area but the ball glanced off his head and didn`t trouble Bywater in the Derby goal. The Palace defender fired in his sides` first effort on target just after the half hour mark when his shot from thirty yards forced Bywater to make a save down to his left.
Hulse went down under a McCarthy challenge in the area and looked to have a good shout for a penalty but the referee waived away the protests and Palace began to assert themselves more towards the end of the half. The last two chances of the half came their way but Ambrose blazed over the top when an Alan Lee header across the six yard box found him and the former Ipswich striker then had another headed chance at the far post but Stephen Bywater was equal to the effort and he gathered the loose ball to deny a second chance.
The home side had the ball in the net three minutes into the second half but Ertl`s effort was ruled out as Clint Hill was stood in an offside position just in front of Stephen Bywater and deemed to be interfering with play. Connolly and Vaughan combined well to find Livermore and his touch set Teale running at goal but his shot whistled wide of Speroni`s far post.
The Rams found themselves behind ten minutes into the second half when Sean Derry`s header into the area found Darren Ambrose in yards of space and he kept his composure to slot the ball past Stephen Bywater from eight yards out. Stephen Pearson came off the bench to replace Livermore two minutes later as Nigel Clough looked to get his side back in the match.
The Rams were getting themselves on top again but could have found themselves two behind when Ertl met a free kick with a powerful header but his effort crashed against the crossbar with Bywater beaten and the ball dropped just the wrong side of the bar for the Palace man. Rob Hulse then hit an effort on the turn but he didn`t get enough on the effort to trouble Speroni who saved easily.
Shaun Barker replaced Dean Leacock with just over ten minutes to go with the defender looking to be suffering from a touch of cramp on his return to the side. Scannell then raced away and looked set to wrap the game up but Connolly got back well to make a superb challenge and concede the corner before Kris Commons replaced Miles Addison as The Rams went for the equaliser. The winger was involved straight away and his superb cross into the area was knocked behind for a corner and Rob Hulse`s header was well saved by Speroni from the resulting flag-kick with Vaughan`s overhead kick from the rebound going high and wide.
The Rams were bombing forward and Speroni pulled off another save diving low to his right to turn away Kris Commons' effort and the sub was injured in the process as he appeared to be caught by a late challenge as he got the shot in. The referee wasn`t interested in the penalty appeals although Commons was taken from the field on a stretcher before the corner could be taken and despite five minutes of added time Clough`s side couldn`t find the equaliser and they fell to their fourth straight defeat.