Robinson Wins It
Theo Robinson poked home the only goal of the game in the firsthalf as Derby County claimed a much needed three points with a 1-0 victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, their first in nine games. In a scrappy encounter The Blades had the better of the opening stages but Robinson struck on twenty-seven minutes when Daniel Ayala fired low ball across goal and he tapped in at the far post. Frank Fielding, making his first start of his second spell at the club, was untested for large periods despite The Rams being under pressure but he made saves from Ched Evans and Matthew Lowton when called upon to help his side keep a clean sheet. With Ayala and Shaun Barker outstanding at the back Derby saw out the closing stages and very nearly doubled their lead at the end as Robinson broke clear on goal but he couldn`t take advantage and he was denied by Steve Simonsen.
Nigel Clough made five changes to the side defeated by Hull City in midweek through a combination of injuries, ineligibility and a change in personnel. Stephen Bywater and Gareth Roberts missed out through injury to be replaced by Frank Fielding and Paul Green, Steve Davies being replaced by Chris Porter, Tomasz Cywka missing out to Stephen Pearson and Jamie Ward was unavailable due to the terms of his loan so Theo Robinson made his first start in a Rams shirt. Green lined up at rightback meaning John Brayford moving to the leftback to cover for Roberts. Neither side could stamp their authority on the match in a scrappy opening and the first real chance of the game fell to the home side when Richard Cresswell`s shot on the turn was headed off the line by John Brayford.
United were getting themselves on top but half chances for Bjorn Helge Riise and Johnny Ertl didn`t lead to Frank Fielding being troubled on his second debut and Shaun Barker and Daniel Ayala were standing firm as the home side threw a number of high balls into the area. The Rams then took the lead with their first real opportunity of the match when a half clearance was returned into the area by Robbie Savage and Ayala drove a low ball back across goal and Theo Robinson tapped home at the far post. The frustration of the home crowd was growing and Derby were close to a second when Paul Green`s cross-shot nearly found Chris Porter at the far post but he couldn`t quite make contact. Ched Evans forced a save from Fielding in the closing moments of the half when he cut inside from the left and curled an effort on goal but the young keeper was more than equal to it to preserve his sides lead going into the break.
The home side came out strongly after the break and Ayala made a good block to deny Evans as he looked set to pull the trigger inside the box and Richard Cresswell beat Fielding to a cross from the right but his header flashed over the top. Barker was outstanding at the back and made two last ditch challenges as United continued to apply the pressure looking for a way back into the match. The play was mainly in the Derby half but The Rams backline were looking steady and Robinson`s run and shot at the other end brought a full length save out of Steve Simonsen.
Fielding made a sharp save from Matthew Lowton when a corner from the right reached him six-yards from goal and his header looked bound for the net until it was tipped over the top. United were throwing everything at Derby without ever looking like scoring and, with six minutes of added time being signalled, Robinson had the chance to wrap up the points when he broke clear on goal but Simonsen was off his line quickly to deny the on-loan Millwall man a second goal of the match. The visitors saw out the closing moments to claim a vital away victory and pull away from the drop zone with other results going their way.
Sheffield United: Simonsen, Nosworthy, Ertl, Doyle (Vokes 70), Evans, Williamson, Cresswell (Bogdanovic 63), Collins, Quinn (Bent 70), Lowton, Riise
Subs: Yeates, Kozluk, McAllister, Long
Derby County: Fielding, Green, Barker, Ayala, Brayford, B Davies (Buxton 89), Savage, Addison, Pearson (Cywka 58), Porter (S Davies 80), Robinson
Subs: Atkins, Pringle, Doyle, Bueno