Quick Start Downs Hammers
Attendance: 28, 067
A fast start saw Derby County score twice in the opening ten minutes and they went on beat West Ham United 2-1 in their final game of 2011 at Pride Park. Callum Ball lashed in his second goal of the season after two minutes and Paul Green headed in from close range from an inviting Gareth Roberts cross as high flying West Ham had no answer for the early onslaught from The Rams. The visitors forced their way back in to the match with Frank Fielding making stops from Frank Nouble and Gary O`Neil before Nouble`s deflected effort pulled one back just before halftime. There were chances at either end after the break with Mark Noble and Ball both coming close. West Ham threw everything at Derby in the closing stages but The Rams back line stood firm throwing themselves in front of a number of efforts as they claimed all three points.
Nigel Clough named an unchanged team as his side looked for a third victory at home in a row. Derby started quickly and were a goal ahead inside the first two minute, Nathan Tyson made progress down the right and his pass found Callum Ball who thumped an effort into the top corner of the net with his left foot from inside the area for his second senior goal. West Ham were being pinned back inside their own half and The Rams scored a second on ten minutes as they continued to pull the visitors apart at the back. Gareth Roberts found space down the left and his inviting cross was met by a diving header from Paul Green to score from close range.
Jamie Ward was having another lively game and he twice tried his luck from range as Derby continued to dominate but West Ham slowly eased their way back into the game as they found their rhythm in midfield. Frank Fielding was called upon to keep out shots from Frank Nouble and Gary O`Neil before the visitors pulled a goal back three minutes before the break when Frederic Piquionne laid the ball off on the edge of the area and Nouble`s effort took a deflection before beating Fielding who got a hand to the effort but couldn`t keep the ball out. James Tomkins brought another save from Fielding and Ball dragged an effort across the goal from inside the area at the other end as the chances continued to come but there were not further goals before halftime.
Theo Robinson came on at the break in place of Tyson and West Ham continued on the front foot with Fielding tipping over an effort from a Mark Noble freekick. Derby dug in and fought their way back into the match and Ball powered his way through the middle but dragged his effort wide of the far post with only Green to beat. Piquionne had a similar run at the other end but was denied by a fine tackle from Roberts just as he was about to shoot and the effort was easily gathered by Fielding.
West Ham continued to look for the equaliser with The Rams` best chances coming on the break and Ward fired wide from the edge of the area with one such chance when a square ball may have been a better option. Ben Davies came off the bench with just under twenty minutes to go in place of Ward to introduce some fresh legs and the substitute came close with a low effort that Green did well to keep out. The visitors were seeing more of the ball and were throwing everything forward having brought on Carlton Cole and Sam Baldock up front but Jason Shackell and Shaun Barker were standing firm at the back and made a number of blocks on goalbound efforts. Despite four minutes of injury time Derby saw out the closing stages to claim their second victory of the holiday period.
Derby County: Fielding, Brayford, Barker, Shackell, Roberts, Green, Bailey, Bryson, Ward (B Davies 73), Ball (Buxton 90), Tyson (Robinson 46).
Subs: Legzdins, Priskin.
West Ham United: Green, Reid, Tomkins, Noble, O'Brien, Diop (Hall 79), Lansbury, Nouble, Piquionne (Baldock 61), O'Neil (Cole 61), Potts.
Subs: Carew, Sears.