Derby Stroll To Portsmouth Win
Attendance: 24, 148
Derby County ripped Portsmouth apart with a superb first half performance and ran out comfortable 3-1 winners at Pride Park to put their recent run of poor results behind them. Craig Bryson struck early with a neat finish from just inside the area and after Jason Pearce struck the bar with a header at the other end it was all one way traffic until the break. Chris Maguire scored from close range on his first league start after Theo Robinson was denied and Jamie Ward curled home a neat third from a Jeff Hendrick pass as Derby again cut through their visitors with ease. Maguire could have made it four just before the break and whilst the second period was a little more even The Rams still had the better of the chances overall. Pearce headed home from close range with just over ten minutes to go to pull one back and Frank Fielding pushed away an effort from Tel Ben-Haim but The Rams saw out the closing stages to move backup to fifth in the table.
Nigel Clough made two changes to his side with Chris Maguire coming in for his league debut after an impressive appearance from the bench on Tuesday to replace Mason Bennett who was named amongst the substitutes. Russell Anderson also came into the side after recovering from injury to take his place at rightback with Lee Croft missing out on the matchday squad. Portsmouth kept an unchanged side meaning that former Derby striker Luke Varney started upfront.
The Rams looked to attack their visitors from the first whistle and took the lead after only three minutes when Theo Robinson`s through ball found Craig Bryson and the midfielder escaped the attentions of Tel Ben-Haim before calmly finding the bottom corner of Stephen Henderson`s net with an assured finish. Ben Davies came close on seven minutes when a throw-in found him on the edge of the area but his dipping volley was just over the bar. Portsmouth looked dangerous at the other end when Jason Pearce was first to a Liam Lawrence cross but his header hit the bar and the rebound was cleared to safety.
Bryson won the ball back in midfield and Derby broke away to double their lead on fourteen minutes. Jamie Ward was released down the left and his low cross was turned goalwards by Robinson only for Henderson to save his low effort but Maguire was first to the rebound to turn the ball home from close range. Mark O`Brien was replaced by Kevin Kilbane on the half-hour mark with a shoulder injury and the Republic of Ireland international went straight into the centre of defence.
Henderson denied Ward after another fine move from Derby but it was only a short term reprieve when a superb through ball from Jeff Hendrick picked him out inside the area and he curled a neat finish into the far corner to put his side 3-0 up. Derby broke away again just before the break with Robinson`s pace taking him away down the left and his neat ball found Bryson who laid off to Maguire but Henderson did well to save at his feet with the ball cleared to safety. The visitors just couldn`t live with Derby in the first half and could count themselves fortunate to reach the break only three goals behind.
Portsmouth came out looking to get back into the match after the break and David Norris glanced a header wide from close range after a cross from Lawrence picked him out. Derby went back down the other end though and Henderson saved a low shot from Ward from the edge of the area and he was also called into action with further efforts from the same player and Robinson as The Rams looked to extend their advantage.
Maguire took a blow to face in front of the benches and was replaced by Mason Bennett on sixty-eight minutes to a rapturous reception from the Pride Park crowd and Conor Doyle followed not long afterwards to replace Robinson after a hard working display. Derby fell asleep from a corner with the ball worked short and the cross was scrambled to safety but Portsmouth pulled a goal back from the resulting corner when it was again taken short and Pearce was first to an inviting centre to head home from close range on seventy-nine minutes. Frank Fielding was then called into action to push away a Ben-Haim effort but Derby re-established their dominance in the closing stages to see out the game and take a well deserved three points.
Derby County: Fielding, Anderson, O'Brien (Kilbane 30), Shackell, Roberts, B Davies, Hendrick, Bryson, Ward, Robinson (Doyle 73), Maguire (Bennett 68).
Subs Not Used: Legzdins, Buxton.
Portsmouth: Henderson, Rocha, Pearce, Lawrence, Mullins, Huseklepp (Futacs 62), Varney, Halford (Ward 16), Kitson, Norris (Razak 62), Ben Haim.
Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Mokoena.