Attendance: 28, 106
A shocking defensive display allowed Scunthorpe United to claim only their second away win of the season at Pride Park as Nigel Clough`s side once again failed to deliver in front of their own fans. Mistakes from the centreback pairing of Jake Buxton and Miles Addison saw the visitors take a two goal lead into the halftime break and despite a fight back in the second period triggered by the introduction of Kris Commons defensive lapses in the last ten minutes saw The Irons come out on top 4-1. Whilst not a must win game the heavy defeat to the side struggling at the foot of the table has further dragged The Rams into the relegation fight after their pre-Christmas form appeared to pushing them away from the wrong end of the table.
Nigel Clough made three changes to the side who earned a replay at Millwall last weekend with Robbie Savage returning from suspension, Lee Johnson making his first start and Nicky Hunt also included after his loan switch from Bolton Wanderers. Kris Commons and Paul Connolly dropped to the bench whilst Lee Hendrie missed out completely with a hamstring problem.
The Rams got the game underway looking to halt their recent run of two consecutive home defeats and Rob Hulse had the first shot of the game after turning Cliff Byrne inside the area but Josh Lillis saved comfortably at his near post. Dean Moxey 's short backpass allowed Gary Hooper a chance but Stephen Bywater took the ball of his toe as he was set to shoot with only the keeper to beat.
The same player was presented with a clear shot two minutes and made no mistake after a defensive mix-up. Jake Buxton was beaten too easily and as he turned he collided with Miles Addison as the ball was played through for Hooper and he kept his nerve to slot past Bywater into the bottom corner from the edge of the area. Lee Johnson nearly struck back immediately but Lillis saved well to his left and Byrne did well to keep Hulse away from the rebound allowing the keeper to gather the loose ball at the second attempt.
Paul Hayes had close range effort blocked by Bywater after a defensive header from a Scunthorpe set piece saw the ball spin high into the air and drop to the striker yards from goal. Jake Buxton then threatened from a Robbie Savage free kick but couldn`t keep his header down and another header from Rob Hulse lacked sufficient power to trouble Lillis from another ball into the area.
Derby were enjoying the lion`s share of possession without carving out any clear-cut chances and were made to pay on the stroke of halftime after another defensive lapse. Miles Addison misjudged a long ball forward and Garry Thompson pounced on the ball as it bounced behind him to fire in off the post with a low drive from just outside the area that Bywater got his fingertips to but couldn`t keep out. It was another demonstration of the brittle confidence and nervousness around their own goal that has cost The Rams so dearly in recent performances as they reached the break two goals down.
Kris Commons came on for Chris Porter at the break and lined up alongside Rob Hulse through the middle with the later having a chance in the opening stages but he couldn`t keep his header from close range down. Lee Johnson had moved into the middle with Stephen Pearson switching to the left and Johnson`s promptings from the centre saw Derby gain the upper hand as they looked for a path back into the game.
Robbie Savage hit a dropping ball with his left foot from just outside the area after a corner was partially cleared to him as The Rams stepped up their pressure just before the hour mark and they pulled a goal back minutes later. Kris Commons, looking lively since his introduction, went on a run and bundled his way through a challenge on the edge of the area before getting in a shot that deflected off of Marcus Williams and bobbled into the corner to give his side a footing in the match.
Derby were well on top but, other than a couple of efforts from Kris Commons from outside the area, again they were not able to create any openings with Scunthorpe getting plenty of men behind the ball and defending well. Steven Davies came on for Paul Green with twenty minutes to go as The Rams continued to dominate but they were nearly caught out when Sam Togwell got on the end of a rare foray forward only to be denied by a sharp save from Stephen Bywater.
Nicky Hunt broke forward down the right and his low cross found Rob Hulse who`s flick beat Lillis but the ball was cleared off the line just as it appeared bound for the bottom corner and the visitors survived the scare. It was Hunt`s last action as he was replaced by Paul Connolly with ten minutes to go and the game was wrapped up by Garry Thompson moments later. Jake Buxton allowed a ball forward to bounce and lost out to Gary Hooper who held the ball before laying the ball low across the area, no Derby defender was able to clear and Thompson ran in and side footed an effort across Bywater into the far corner to secure the three points with just under ten minutes to go.
It got worse for Nigel Clough`s men with a minute to go after more poor defending allowed the ball to be crossed into the area and a shot from the edge of the box took two deflections before falling to substitute Jonathan Forte who made no mistake from close range to add an embarrassing tilt to the scoreline amidst more boos from the home crowd. The referee blew the final whistle in front of an almost empty Pride Park and brought to an end Derby`s third home defeat in a row as they fell worryingly close to the relegation zone with all the sides below them now having games in hand.