Hulse Wins It
Attendance: 32, 674
Rob Hulse was the hero as Derby County brought to an end Nottingham Forest`s nineteen match unbeaten run after glancing home a Kris Commons free kick with a little over ten minutes to go. It was a high paced encounter at Pride Park in a typical derby match with Forest looking surprisingly subdued in the first half with Lee Camp making the only saves of note to deny Jake Buxton and Shaun Barker with headers from corners. They stepped it up after the break with Paul Anderson missing a glorious opportunity when the ball hit him from a Majewski cross but The Rams were soon back on top although the chances were still at a premium. Gary Teale won a free kick wide on the right and Kris Commons whipped delivery found Rob Hulse who glanced a header into the net from six yards to secure all three points in a game that always looked likely to be decided by the one goal.
Kris Commons came in for DJ Campbell in the only change from the side that lost narrowly to Plymouth in midweek with the on loan Leicester man dropping to the bench. Nottingham Forest started with Lee Camp and Robbie Earnshaw in their line-up but there was no place for Nathan Tyson after the controversy at the end of the corresponding game at the City Ground earlier this season. There was a boisterous atmosphere inside of a sold out Pride Park and there was a first return for Billy Davies after missing the encounter last season due to family illness.
Rob Earnshaw had the games first effort in a lively opening but his effort was blocked by Shaun Barker inside the six yard area after the ball reached him from a corner and Stephen Pearson had a similar opportunity at the other end but he couldn`t get his half-volley on target and the danger passed. Wes Morgan got on the end of a Chris Cohen cross but couldn`t get his header on target on seventeen minutes as Derby were beginning to assert themselves on the game.
A run of corners for The Rams kept Forest penned in their own half but they defended well and Lee Camp wasn`t called into action and the ball was eventually cleared to safety. Jake Buxton did manage to bring a save out of the ex-Derby keeper at the halfway point of the half as his header looked to be looping into the top corner but he got back well to tip the ball over the bar. Shaun Barker was next to threaten from another corner as his header from near the penalty spot forced Camp into a full length save low to his right to tip the ball around the post. Derby were well on top with Forest not putting together any moves of note and the corners continued to come but with no end product and despite dominating the closing minutes of the half they didn`t find the breakthrough before the interval.
Radoslaw Majewski created the first chance of the second half with a mazy run as he cut into the area and fired a low cross across the goal from virtually on the goalline but the ball hit Paul Anderson with the goal beckoning and bounced away when it looked easier to score. After looking extremely subdued in the first half the visitors had upped their game at the beginning of the second and were starting to find some rhythm in their play. Stephen Bywater was called into action to make a sharp reaction save to keep out a Dexter Blackstock header and as the ball bounced up off his chest he knocked it behind with Paul Anderson closing in.
Rob Hulse dragged a volley wide with Derby`s first effort of the half but Jay McEveley was then in action at the other end when he threw himself in front of an effort by Paul Anderson with the ball spinning behind for a corner. Nigel Clough`s side were finding their feet again after being forced back for the opening fifteen minutes and Kris Commons tried his luck with a long range effort but it was a straight forward save for Camp. The game was still being played at a high pace but the chances weren`t coming with both defences looking solid amidst frantic activity in the middle of the park.
Gary Teale came off the bench with fifteen minutes to go with Lee Johnson the man to make way after another tidy performance from the Bristol City loanee and he was straight into the action delivering a cross from the left that Jake Buxton was only inches away from. He eventually lined up on the right of midfield with Paul Green moving into a more familiar role in the centre of the park.
The Rams were back on top and pushing for the winner with one goal looking likely to win the match and it came with twelve minutes on the clock after an inviting Kris Commons delivery. Gary Teale had his heels clipped wide on the right, Commons fired the free kick across the goal with pace and Rob Hulse got his head to the ball to flick it beyond Lee Camp and into the net from six yards out. The goal sparked Forest into life and they piled forward to find the equaliser but Jake Buxton and Shaun Barker got their heads and bodies in the way of anything that came their way to keep them at bay.
Dele Adebola was making a nuisance of himself after having come off the bench with twenty minutes to go but his physical presence couldn`y help fashion a chance as the minutes ticked down and even with four minutes of injury time played Stephen Bywater was not called into action again. The only moment of note came when Jay McEveley held onto the ball when the referee had awarded a Forest throw and Chris Gunther was a little over enthusiastic in retrieving it leading to a melee between both sets of players but the officials soon restored order with the two original perpetrators the recipients of a yellow card apiece. The final whistle went amidst celebrations as Derby regained the Brian Clough trophy they lost at the City Ground back in August and they broke their visitors` unbeaten away record this season with a well deserved victory.