Attendance: 17, 630
Shaun Barker was the hero for The Rams as his twentieth minute strike claimed all three points at the Ricoh Arena although there was a controversial moment in added on time as Chris Hussey`s low ball into the area found the back of the net only for Clinton Morrison to have been adjudged to be interfering with play and the goal disallowed for offside. Strong starts to both halves saw Coventry threaten through Jon Stead and Sammy Clingan but The Rams backline stood firm and they forced their way back into the game to take the lead via Shaun Barker`s half-volley from a Michael Tonge corner that just made it over the line before being hacked away. The Rams knocked the ball around well in the second period and comfortably saw out the closing moments until the assistant`s flag denied the Sky Blues from claiming a late equaliser. The win saw Derby pull eight points clear of the relegation zone and move within touching distance of securing survival.
Rob Hulse returned to the starting line-up to partner Chris Porter upfront with Steven Davies dropping to the bench where there was also a recall for Gary Teale. Coventry started with former Ram Jonathan Stead partnering Clinton Morrison spearheading their attack . The home side started brightly and it was Stead who very nearly opened the scoring within the first thirty seconds as he turned and fired an effort narrowly wide of the target. Morrison and Stead both had further efforts within the first ten minutes but neither of them tested Stephen Bywater in the Derby goal.
The Rams withstood the early pressure from the Sky Blues and took the lead with their first noteworthy attack of the match. After winning a corner the resulting set-piece was flicked on by Rob Hulse and Shaun Barker`s half-volley was adjudged to have crossed the line before being hacked away. Coventry looked for an immediate reply with Stead again creating the danger forcing Bywater to turn away his header from a whipped cross.
Derby were knocking the ball around well and enjoying a spell of pressure in the Coventry half winning a succession of corners but didn`t fashion a clear effort on goal until injury time when Rob Hulse flashed an effort narrowly wide of the mark with Kieran Westwood caught of position. It had been a decent first half for The Rams after a bright start from Coventry and they fought back well after weathering the storm.
Nicky Hunt came on for Dean Leacock at the break after he picked up a knock to his knee in the first period and the home side where on the attack early on in a mirror image of the start to the first half. This time Bywater reacted well to turn away a stinging Sammy Clingan volley from the edge of the area and Shaun Barker hacked the ball to safety as Morrison looked to profit from the rebound. Stephen Pearson caught Coventry on the break when his run and ball in behind the home defence setup Rob Hulse but he dragged his effort wide of the mark when well placed.
Derby withstood the early pressure and eased their way back into the match again by getting the ball down and playing it around the midfield. Robbie Savage hit a free kick towards the top corner with twenty minutes to go but Westwood reacted well to deny The Rams skipper and Shaun Barker had the ball in the net again five minutes later with a towering header from another Tonge corner but his effort was disallowed for a push.
Steven Davies replaced Hulse with six minutes to go and he very nearly made an immediate impact when he ran at the home defence but he dragged his shot wide from the edge of the area. Gary Teale was the final Rams change when he was brought on in place of Michael Tonge with three minutes to go for his first appearance since the end of January.
As the board went up for thee minutes of added time Coventry looked to have equalised as Chris Hussey fried a low cross into the area which bypassed everyone and nestled in the far corner of the net. However, as the home side celebrated they missed the assistant referee having already raised his flag for offside against Clinton Morrison in the middle as the cross passed him by and the goal was disallowed. The remaining minutes passed without further incident as Derby picked up their third win on the road to virtually secure Championship safety.