Pittman The Difference
Attendance: 14, 029
In form Brett Pitman struck twice to give Bristol City the victory at Ashton Gate although the big talking point in the game came just before halftime when David James brought down Kris Commons when The Rams` leading scorer was clean through on goal but was only shown a yellow card. It was an evenly contested first period with Derby playing some neat football without troubling James in the early stages and Pitman and Marvin Elliott both tested the returning Bywater in the visitors goal. Luke Moore`s flicked header was well saved by James before the controversial moment that saw Commons looking destined to score only for the former England keeper to trip him and deny Bueno from the resulting free kick. Pitman broke the deadlock when slotting home at the far post from a low Adomah cross and the same pair combined with just over twenty minutes to go to wrap up the points. Commons continued his dual with James with the Scottish international firing just wide of the post from range and then being denied from close range in the final ten minutes as Derby suffered a third defeat on the bounce.
Nigel Clough was forced to make two changes to his side with Robbie Savage and James Bailey missing through an ankle injury and illness respectively and being replaced by Alberto Bueno and Stephen Pearson with Paul Green dropping back into the holding role in midfield. There was also a return in goal for Stephen Bywater in place of Frank Fielding with the young keeper due to return to Blackburn when his loan expires. Marvin Elliott headed a Brett Pitman cross over the bar inside the first minute as the home side started quickly but The Rams soon established themselves on the game playing some neat football without troubling David James in the City goal.
Alberto Bueno was showing his worth on his return to the side and was at the heart of all of Derby`s best moves and his neat pass found Luke Moore on twenty-three minutes but the strikers` effort was block on the edge of the area. Stephen Bywater was having a quiet afternoon in his first start since early October but was tested when Pitman volleyed a Jamie McAllister cross although the shot was straight at him as was another long range effort from Elliott moments later. Moore threatened at the other end when he got his head to a John Brayford cross but his flicked effort was easily gathered by James at his near post.
The home side stepped up the pressure and Bywater was forced into a sharp save when a McAllister free kick flicked off Paul Green and looked bound for the back of the net and Pitman nearly capitalised on a defensive mix-up but Green got back to block the shot. The big talking point of the game came with five minutes to go until the break when Kris Commons was released by a neat Bueno ball and he was brought down just outside the area by James as he rushed from goal. The referee only saw fit to produce a yellow card despite it being a clear goal scoring opportunity and to make matters worse the former England keeper saved Bueno`s effort from the resulting free kick. It was the last action of note before halftime although Dean Moxey was brought on to replace Gareth Roberts in the closing minutes after the fullback picked up a knock.
City came out of the blocks quickly in the second period and the in-form Brett Pitman broke the deadlock three minutes after the break, Albert Adomah broke clear down the right and his low cross was slotted home at the far post by the City striker giving Bywater no chance. Clough made a change almost immediately bringing on Chris Porter in place of Bueno with Moore dropping back into the hole. Derby were again playing some neat football but the final ball was letting them down although Commons brought a save out of James at his near post with a firm effort on the break.
As they chased the game The Rams` were caught out by a swift move from the home side on sixty-eight minutes that put the result beyond doubt. Adomah was again the provider when he neatly played in Pitman and the striker doubled his and City`s tally neatly rolling the ball beyond the on-rushing Bywater. Derby were throwing everything at the home side to try and find a way back into the match and Commons lashed a firm effort just wide of the post with fifteen minutes to go and was denied again by James when he looked set to score inside the six-yard box with ten to go. The Rams kept pushing forward but were unable to create any further chances with the introduction of Conor Doyle the only moment of note in the closing moments.
Bristol City: James, Riberio, Caulker, Stewart, McAllister, Rose, Skuse, Elliott, Adomah (Campbell-Ryce 73), Pitman (Cisse 86), Clarkson (Stead 62)
Subs: Johnson, Haynes, Gerken, Nytanga
Derby County: Bywater, Brayford, Barker, Leacock, Roberts (Moxey 40), Pearson, Green, Cywka (Doyle 87), Commons, Bueno (Porter 49), Moore
Subs: Fielding, Hendrick. Kuqi, Pringle