Rams Claim Vital Win
Attendance: 25, 341
Derby County claimed their first victory at Pride Park since late November with a well earned 2-1 victory against high flying Swansea City. The visitors started brightly but The Rams closed them down well and a bizarre own goal from Ashley Williams, whose backpass crossed the line before being cleared, gave them a much needed boost. Derby played some neat football themselves and Shaun Barker and Alberto Bueno went close before Scott Sinclair wasted his sides` best chance of the half putting an effort wide from six-yards. Steve Davies powered in a header to give his side a two goal lead less than ten minutes into the second half only for substitute Darren Pratley to head one back ten minutes later. Swansea really stepped the pressure up but, despite one or two scares, The Rams held on and should have increased their lead when Theo Robinson skewed an effort wide from ten yards with only de Vries to beat after an incisive break away. The victory, coupled with other results, saw Nigel Clough`s side increase the gap to nine points between themselves and the relegation zone.
The Rams made three changes to the side that tasted defeat at the Riverside Stadium on Tuesday with Robbie Savage, Alberto Bueno and Steve Davies returning to the starting line-up in place of Conor Doyle, Theo Robinson and Miles Addison who all dropped to the bench alongside youngsters Jeff Hendrick and Callum Ball. Swansea knocked the ball around neatly in the opening stages but Derby were giving them no time to settle, harrying and forcing them into mistakes, and it was this pressure that lead to their opening goal on seven minutes. After nearly winning back possession deep in the Swansea half Ashley Williams was put under pressure by Paul Green and the defender hopelessly over-hit his backpass with Dorus de Vries unable to prevent the ball crossing the line before he cleared.
The goal gave the fans and the team some belief and Shaun Barker had a header saved from a Robbie Savage freekick minutes later and then Alberto Bueno nearly got on the end of a cross from the right but Alan Tate just got his head to the ball to flick it away from the Spaniard. Despite their neat passing Swansea were not creating an awful lot going forward although Ashley Williams was involved again as his powerful header from a Scott Sinclair cross thundered back off the crossbar. Stephen Dobie went close with a couple of efforts from just outside the area although Frank Fielding wasn`t forced into a save from either and Sinclair couldn`t get enough on a cross from the striker and could only put his effort wide of the mark from inside the six-yard box. It was a strong finish from the visitors but they couldn`t find a break through and The Rams went in a goal to the good at the interval.
Brendan Rogers made two changes at the start of the second period with Darren Pratley and Leon Britton coming on in place of Luke Moore and Mark Gower as they looked for a way back into the match. Fielding was on his toes to turn away a Joe Allen effort on fifty minutes and The Rams capitalised by increasing their lead four minutes later. Conor Doyle, on in place of Green, whipped in a corner to the far post and Steve Davies powered a header past de Vries to give his side some breathing room. The ball was spending more time in the Derby half but, after out muscling Williams, Davies nearly added a third when his low drive was tipped wide by de Vries with the corner coming to nothing.
Swansea pulled a goal back with twenty-five minutes to go when Angel Rangel`s deep cross from the right of the area was misjudged by Fielding and Pratley powered in a header at the far post to give his side hope. Dobie had a shot from the edge of the area deflect off Daniel Ayala and loop onto the bar as the visitors came within inches of levelling the match and Sinclair intercepted a poor Miles Addison pass but couldn`t get his effort on target under pressure from Barker with only Fielding to beat. The Rams were putting in a real back to the walls performance to limit chances for Swansea and they should have sealed the victory with a break away inside in the last ten minutes. Alberto Bueno and substitute Theo Robinson broke two on one and the Spaniard`s square pass found Robinson but he somehow sliced his shot wide of the mark when faced with only de Vries with the chance to secure the win. Three minutes of added time were signalled but The Rams were determined not to give this one away and saw it out to claim a priceless three points in their battle at the wrong end of the table.
Derby County: Fielding, Brayford, Roberts, Barker, Ayala, Green (Doyle 50), Ward (Addison 62), Savage, Pearson, Bueno, S Davies (Robinson 71)
Subs: Duke, Leacock, Hendrick, Ball
Swansea City: De Vries, Williams, Taylor, Tate, Dyer (Beattie 66), Dobie, Moore (Pratley 46), Sinclair, Rangel, Allen, Gower (Britton 46)
Subs: Van der Gun, Ma-Kalambay, Serran, Richards
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