One to Forget!
Cardiff City Stadium
An evening to forget in South Wales saw Derby County on the wrong end of a 6-1 mauling on their first ever trip to the Cardiff City stadium. What appeared to be valid claim for offside in the build up to the first goal was not given as the home side took the lead but from then on The Rams were second best as Michael Chopra grabbed four goals to end their run of five defeats in six games and give Nigel Clough serious cause for concern as his side shipped in four goals in eighteen second half minutes.
Fredrik Stoor and Lee Hendrie came in for their first starts in the place of the injured Paul Connolly and James Vaughan who dropped down to the bench where The Rams only fielded six substitutes due to injuries. Former Derby loanee Peter Whittingham lined up for the home side in their first midweek game since moving the short distance to their new stadium.
After an uneventful opening to the game, with neither side being able to keep hold of the ball for long, the home side took the lead when a ball over the top found Jay Bothroyd, looking suspiciously offside, and he ran into the area before laying the ball across to Peter Whittingham to roll in from four yards out with a chance he simply couldn't miss.
The ball was still not sticking up front for The Rams and it wasn't until the fifteenth minute they had their first shot of the match but Fredrik Stoor fired high and wide from twenty-five yards. Lee Hendrie had a goal bound effort blocked on the half hour by Hudson when Lee Croft's cross was cleared straight to him and Dean Leacock was replaced shortly afterwards by Jay McEveley after pulling up with a hamstring injury.
Cardiff doubled their lead on thirty-six minutes when a Mark Kennedy cross picked out Michael Chopra and he slid the ball into the net from close range and it could have been worse with Stephen Bywater making smart saves from Chopra again and Bothroyd in the closing minutes of the half but they held on to go in only two goals behind after the opening period.
The Rams came out with more purpose at the start of the second half and Rob Hulse pulled one back two minutes into the second half when Lee Hendrie's cross found him and he held off Hudson before poking the ball past Marshall for his second goal of the season.
Suddenly the home fans were on edge again and Hulse had an opportunity to equalise six minutes later but his header from Lee Croft's cross was straight at Marshall and chance had gone. Burke then came close from a Kennedy cross to the far post and was only inches away from snatching a third but this was not long in coming when Burke found Chopra in the area again and he crashed home a shot low to Bywater's right.
That goal pushed the match back in Cardiff's favour after a nervy spell and despite Hulse firing in a powerful effort moments later that Marshall did well to push behind for a corner they found themselves three goals ahead moments later. Chopra completed his hat trick after finding room in behind the Derby backline and he lifted a neat finish over Bywater as the keeper came out to meet him. Virtually from the kick-off Chris Burke picked up the loose ball and ran unchallenged from just inside Derby's half before drilling the ball into the net for a second goal in little over a minute.
Ben Pringle came off the bench to replace Lee Croft with twenty minutes to go and the youngster looked lively nearly getting on the end of a Gary Teale cross into the area before the later then had a shot from twelve yards deflected behind for a corner. However, Cardiff almost immediately went down the other end to make it six with his fourth goal of the game when he again escaped the backline for a clear run on goal and he powerfully finished.
Paul Dickov replaced Rob Hulse with ten minutes to go and The Rams managed to hold out without any further damage to their beleaguered defence but it had been another disappointing night for Nigel Clough's men who were a distant second to their hosts.