Attendance: 30, 259
A horrendous mistake from Chris Weale in the Leicester goal was the difference between the sides in a tight East Midlands Derby at Pride Park. The City keeper took his eye off the ball at the crucial moment as he let Andy King`s backpass slip under his foot and into the net for the only goal of the game. Both sides showed plenty of hard work but lacked the guile to unlock the respective defences as chances were at a premium. Chris Porter led the line well for The Rams and he showed some neat touches and twice came close to adding to the scoring in the second half with efforts that were just off target. Stephen Bywater made a full length save to deny Richie Wellens in the first period and Michael Morrison flicked an effort straight at The Rams` keeper from close range with his sides` best effort inside the final ten minutes. The home defence stood firm and even the introduction of Derby old boy Steve Howard couldn`t change the outcome as they increased the gap to the bottom three to nine points with six games to play.
Nigel Clough went with the side that played the majority of the second half at Loftus Road with Steven Davies coming in to start in place of Gilles Sunu and Dean Leacock replacing Nicky Hunt at rightback with both players dropping to the bench. Leicester City had places for former Rams Matt Oakley and Chris Powell in their starting line-up with Steve Howard also sat on the bench.
Chances were at a premium in the early stages with both sides looking solid at the back whilst lacking the creativity going forward to seriously trouble the opposition. The Rams took the lead on nineteen minutes with a bizarre own-goal totally out of the blue. A free kick on the halfway line was played forward to Paul Green who knocked it on to Chris Porter and went for the return but Andy King beat him to the ball and knocked it back to Chris Weale in the visitors` goal. There seemed to be no danger as Green chased down the backpass but Weale took his eye off the ball and inexplicably let it slip under his foot and into the net to break the deadlock.
The goal sparked some life into the game with Chris Porter having a couple of dangerous looking runs in behind the Leicester defence but on both occasions his final ball took a deflection before going behind for a corner. The visitors looked to get back into the match before halftime with Stephen Bywater having to be on his toes to deny Andy King and Richie Wellens in the closing stages, the later a superb full length save to his right as the midfielders curling effort from outside the area looked to be sneaking just inside the post
The second half got underway in similar fashion to the first with both sides showing endeavour, if not the quality, but with little end product and Michael Tonge was the first to threaten as he broke into the area but he fired into the side netting from a tight angle. Chris Porter was beginning to find more space going forward but his curling effort was just off target from the edge of the area and he couldn`t keep his effort down moments later as he again had the chance inside the area.
Rob Hulse came off the bench just after the hour mark to replace a tired looking Steven Davies as Derby enjoyed a spell of pressure without really testing Weale and Steve Howard came off the bench to a warm reception for the visitors as they looked to engineer a route back into the match. The change in personnel upfront saw Leicester revert to a number of desperate long balls forward to take advantage of Howard`s physical presence but Shaun Barker and Russell Anderson stood firm against the barrage with Bywater also helping out dealing with a number of overhit balls into the area.
With eight minutes to go Michael Morrison had a glorious opportunity to level the scores when a corner was nodded down to him six yards from goal but his flick was straight into the arms of Bywater. At the other end Derby nearly tied the points up when Rob Hulse got his head to a Stephen Pearson cross but his looping header was narrowly over. With four minutes of added time signalled a big finish from Leicester looked in store but they finished with a whimper as they simply couldn`t get the ball back from The Rams and when they did they looked void of ideas with the long balls forward failing to find Howard as the resolute Derby backline shut up shop to claim the clean sheet and all three points.
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