Rams Slip To Narrow Defeat
Attendance: 25, 103
Derby County fell to a 2-1 home defeat against Cardiff City in their first game at Pride Park this season in a closely fought encounter. Tomasz Cywka`s first goal in a Derby shirt cancelled out Michael Chopra`s opener and the game was evenly contested with both sides looking for the win. A Peter Whittingham shot was saved at full length by Stephen Bywater but The Rams` keeper couldn`t keep hold of the ball and Gareth Roberts couldn`t clear as he got back and the ball fell kindly to Chris Burke who tapped in from two yards. It was tough luck on Nigel Clough`s side who acquitted themselves well but it wasn`t to be and there was also a nasty looking injury to Kevin McNaughton in the first half that lead to the game being held up for fifteen minutes.
Derby made three changes with Gareth Roberts, Paul Green and a surprise return for Luke Varney in the starting line-up in place of Dean Moxey, Ben Pringle and Chris Porter respectively. The Rams looked to start brightly and Varney had a run from the left but the ball was cleared to safety and it was the visitors who had the first chance of the match. Robbie Savage gave the ball away in midfield allowing Cardiff to break forward with Michael Chopra`s pace getting him in behind Dean Leacock and he cut the ball back to Peter Whittingham but he lifted his effort over the bar from close range. Another mistake in midfield allowed Chopra to be released and he cut inside from the corner of the area beating two defenders before slotting home from close range to give his side the lead on fifteen minutes.
The Rams dragged themselves level ten minutes later when John Brayford picked out Luke Varney from a throw-in and his low ball found Tomasz Cywka who poked home from six yards to level the scores again. The goal gave Derby the momentum and Shaun Barker got a strong header to a Kris Commons corner but his effort was straight at Andy Marshall in the visitor`s goal. Cardiff were still looking dangerous on the break and Bywater did well to palm a powerful Burke effort behind for a corner just after the half hour as he cut in from the left.
Commons` corner dropped at the feet of Cywka but he couldn`t get enough on his effort to trouble Marshall and Kevin McNaughton lay prone in the area as the ball was cleared from danger. It looked like a serious neck injury with the game being held up for fifteen minutes before he was carried from the field of play on a stretcher to warm applause from both sets of fans. Chopra threatened after the restart when he got on the end of a ball through the middle but Shaun Barker got back to put in timely challenge at the expense of a corner. Commons had the last effort of the half as Varney nodded the ball down to him and he ran at goal before firing just over the top from just outside of the penalty area.
Cardiff came out strongly in the second half as they looked to re-take the lead but Barker and Leacock were dealing well with Bothroyd and Chopra despite one or two edgy moments. The first chance of the half fell to Danny Drinkwater just before the hour mark when a deflected pass fell to him just inside the area but he fired over the top. Paul Green had The Rams` first effort five minutes later when he turned and ran at the visitor`s backline but Marshall saved at full length down to his right to deny the Ireland international.
Conor Doyle came off the bench to make his Pride Park debut for The Rams with twenty minutes to go in place of Savage with Green reverting to the holding midfield role alongside Bailey. Cywka nearly gave his side the lead when he fired in a low cross shot but it was deflected to safety avoiding a number of onrushing Derby men. It was the visitors who retook the lead though with ten minutes to go, Whittingham fired in a shot from the edge of the area that Bywater saved but he couldn`t keep hold of the ball and as Roberts and Burke closed in the ball bounced kindly for the Cardiff man to roll into the empty net.
Derby piled forward in the closing moments and, after a goalmouth scramble, Barker laid back to Cywka but the cutback was too strong for the youngster who could only fire wide. He was replaced by Chris Porter moments later as Nigel Clough made a last throw of the dice and despite another scramble in the area Cardiff were throwing themselves in front of a number of Derby efforts and the final whistle went giving the visitors all three points.
Derby County: Bywater, Brayford, Barker, Leacock, Roberts, Bailey, Savage (Doyle 70), Cywka (Porter 87), Green, Commons (Pringle 76), Varney.
Subs: Deeney, Martin, Moxey, Buxton.
Cardiff City: Marshall, McNaughton (Matthews 45), Hudson, Gyepes, Whittingham, Chopra (McCormack 84), Bothroyd, Burke, Olofinjana, Drinkwater, Blake.
Subs: Heaton, Rae, Quinn, Gerrard, Taiwo.