Sharp Punishes Rams
Attendance: 24, 239
Defensive mistakes and a poor second half showing cost Derby County dearly at Pride Park as they fell to a 3-1 defeat to out of form Doncaster Rovers. The Rams had the chances in the first period but couldn`t take advantage and a straight forward ball to Billy Sharp saw the visitor`s take the lead with their first shot on target with three minutes to go until the break. It was a different story after halftime as The Rams fell apart after Sharp struck with a close range header on forty-eight minutes. The introduction of Alberto Bueno made no difference and Sharp had two chances to complete his hat-trick but couldn`t find the target again. Things got worse for Derby as they gave the ball away down the right and Joseph Mills fired in the third from the edge of the box. Steve Davies flicked in a header in the final minute of the match but it was no more than a consolation as they lost for the fifth straight home game.
Derby made two changes to the side that picked up a vital victory at Bramall Lane at the weekend with Jamie Ward and Steve Davies coming in for Stephen Pearson and Chris Porter respectively. The Rams started brightly and had the first effort of the match when Theo Robinson released Ben Davies down the right and his low cross picked out Steve Davies in the middle but the striker could only flick the ball wide of the far post. Jamie Ward again looked lively but he couldn`t test Gary Woods in the visitor`s goal from the edge of the box.
Woods was forced into a save just after the half hour mark when Ben Davies took a cross down on his chest but the keeper reacted well to block his effort and the ball was cleared to safety. Steve Davies was next to shoot after making room on the edge of the area but his right-footed effort flew over the top. Ben Davies then created room down the right and his inviting cross was met by Theo Robinson but his header flashed just wide of the target at full stretch. With four minutes of the half to go Doncaster took the lead against the run of play when Billy Sharp ran onto a through ball and neatly tucked away the chance. Woods touched a Ben Davies effort over the top as the half came to a close and Steve Davies then fired just over but his side couldn`t find the equaliser before the break.
Doncaster came out of the blocks quickly in he second period and doubled their lead three minutes in when John Oster was given far too much room down the right and his lofted cross picked out Sharp at the far post and his downward header beat Frank Fielding and went in off the post. Nigel Clough acted quickly to make changes to his side although the introduction of Alberto Bueno for Theo Robinson was a surprising change. Ward put in a far post cross that was met by Ben Davies but his effort was blocked at close range as he slid in to meet the ball.
Stephen Pearson and Tomasz Cywka were introduced in place of Miles Addison and Ben Davies in short succession but The Rams just couldn`t build up a head of steam with a number of misplaced passes. Doncaster were looking dangerous on the break and Sharp had two good chances to complete his hat-trick with a diving header straight at Fielding and he then dragged a shot wide of the mark when clean through on goal. Things got worse with twenty minutes to go when Shaun Barker and Paul Green combined to give the ball away down the right and Joseph Mills ran on and fired a low left-footed effort into the net with Fielding getting a hand to it but he couldn`t keep it out.
Oster had an effort from outside of the area that flew wide of the mark and Pearson couldn`t find the target from the edge of the box at the other end as The Rams looked to find a consolation. They found it in the ninetieth minute when Green curled a cross in from the right and Steve Davies flicked a header beyond Woods to give the scoreline a slightly flattering look for his side.
Derby County: Fielding, Green, Barker, Ayala, Brayford, B Davies (Cywka 62), Addison (Pearson 57), Savage, Ward, S Davies, Robinson (Bueno 52).
Subs: Atkins, Porter, Doyle, Buxton
Doncaster Rovers: Woods, Sharp (Kilgallon 74), Stock (Wilson 74), Oster, Friend, Mills, Thomas, Hird, Keegan, Moussa (Gillet 81), Shiels.
Subs: Bradshaw, Webster, Souza, Burge