Attendance: 30, 135
Queens Park Rangers continued their recent run of form hitting four goals for the third game in succession to take the points at Pride Park and whilst it was a deserved victory the manner of the win left a bitter taste for The Rams. Two goals up shortly before halftime they let the game slip and the manner of the goals conceded suggested there are still lessons to be learned at the back with some woeful defending costing Derby dearly. Rangers played some neat football and always looked a danger on the break with Wayne Routledge and the quick footed Adel Taarabt the main threats with Alejandro Faurlin prompting from midfield but it was again mistakes that lead to the visitors running out victors. There were still chances for The Rams to have taken something from the match and Rob Hulse missed a glorious chance at 3-2 to even the scores.
Nigel Clough made four changes to the side beaten at Middlesbrough last time out with Dean Leacock, Jay McEveley and Kris Commons all ruled out and a start for the on loan Bryan Hughes. Paul Connolly lined-up in the centre of defence whilst Fredrik Stoor returned at right back and Lee Croft lined up on the right side of midfield. Steve Davies and Stephen Pearson returned to the bench alongside Jake Buxton who had all spent time out with injuries.
Bryan Hughes showed some neat touches early on, twice feeding Lee Croft down the right but the forays into Rangers` territory came to nothing. Adel Taarabt was involved in the visitor`s first attack of meaning when his pass picked out Akos Buzsaky`s run down the left but his low ball towards Jay Simpson was well claimed by Stephen Bywater to avert the danger.
The Rams took the lead ten minutes into the match when Robbie Savage took a quick free kick that found Paul Dickov unmarked in the area and he turned and fired a first time effort beyond Radek Cerny for his first goal in a Derby shirt. Rangers were on top in terms of possession without creating any real danger and they nearly found themselves two goals behind when Gary Teale won the ball back on the left before picking out Rob Hulse with his cross and the striker`s header forced Cerny into a one handed save to keep the effort out.
Shaun Barker got back well to block from Jay Simpson as he was set to shoot after being teed up by Adel Taarabt and Alejandro Faurlin came close with a left footed free kick that hit the side netting with the some of the visiting supporters celebrating as they thought they had pulled one back. The pressure was building on the Derby backline but they found themselves two goals ahead when Damien Stewart wrestled Paul Dickov to the ground on the edge of the area and Robbie Savage curled a superb free kick into the top left corner to double his sides lead.
The two goal lead didn`t last long though when a foul twenty-five yards from goal gave Adel Taarabt the chance to get an effort on goal and his effort found the bottom corner although the wall and goalkeeper could have done much better. Bywater was again called into action to gather Jay Simpson`s header and a long range Gary Barrowdale effort. Gary Teale volleyed well over from ten yards when Shaun Barker headed back across goal in the last few moments of the half and The Rams` went into the break 2-1 ahead.
The visitor`s were back on level terms two minutes into the second when Dean Moxey lost a high diagonal ball into the area and Wayne Routledge snuck in behind him to square the ball and Gavin Mahon couldn`t miss from six yards out. Rangers tails were up and they were looking dangerous coming forward and Wayne Routledge was given too much room down the right as he ran clear on goal but Stephen Bywater stood tall to deny the winger with a fine save.
All of the play was at Derby`s end of the pitch and Jay Simpson gave his side the lead just before the hour mark when a ball into the area bounced off the heels of Simpson before cut inside and fired a low effort to Bywater`s right to complete the turnaround although Routledge did appear to block of Moxey as he tried to challenge. An injury to Fredrik Stoor saw Jake Livermore take over at right back and it wasn`t long until Stephen Pearson and Steve Davies were introduced to try and change things around as they replaced Paul Dickov and Bryan Hughes in a double substitution.
The changes did disrupt the Rangers possession although two quick corners came to nothing and the second saw Adel Taarabt having half of the Pride Park pitch to himself as he ran clear on goal from the halfway line but Bywater again made a superb save to deny the Moroccan just as Savage got back to get a challenge in. At the other end Steve Davies beat Cerny to a high ball but his looping header was cleared off the line as it dropped. The youngster had another effort moments later when Savage prevented a clearance and broke into the area but his left footed shot was just off target.
The visitors were sitting back and defending their lead although they continued to look dangerous on the break with Wayne Routledge and the newly introduce Patrick Agyemang causing problems at the back for Derby. Rob Hulse should have fired his side level with eight minutes to go when the ball fell to him in the area but he rushed his shot as he was closed down and fired well wide of the mark.
In another break away Wayne Routledge again ran at goal only to go down as he took Dean Moxey on and despite the referee initially not signalling anything the assistant`s flag saw him point to the spot. Akos Buzsaky fired the penalty high past Bywater to secure the points in the final minute and despite some late pressure from The Rams they saw out the game to earn a deserved victory and move into the playoff places.