Dominant Rams Down Boro
Attendance: 22, 523
Derby County got back to winning ways as they eased to a 3-1 victory against promotion chasing Middlesbrough at Pride Park. Michael Jacobs swept home a Ben Davies freekick to reward an impressive start from The Rams and Jeff Hendrick thumped home a volley from the edge of the area just before the break to cap a dominant first half performance. Boro started the second half at a higher tempo but Conor Sammon had a shot saved when clean through before he poached a goal from close range after Jason Steele could not hold a Jacobs shot. Ishmael Miller tested Adam Legzdins` reflexes before he set up Lukas Jutkiewicz in added on time for a consolation goal but his side were well beaten by the time the final whistle blew.
Michael Jacobs returned to the side and lined up alongside Conor Sammon upfront with Mark O`Brien also being recalled and Keiran Freeman making his first start in the place of Gareth Roberts at leftback. The Rams made their usual bright start at home with Jacobs looking particularly lively and his low cross nearly found Sammon at the back post before he fizzed another effort not far wide from twentyfive yards after turning and running at goal.
Derby`s domination was rewarded on nineteen minutes when Ben Davies clipped a freekick into the area from the right and Jacobs reacted well to sweep home a half-volley from ten yards out leaving Jason Steele with no chance in the visitor`s goal. Stuart Parnaby smashed an effort over the top after a blocked shot in the area fell to him but it was a rare chance for Boro and Jeff Hendrick had a volley deflected wide before Richard Keogh headed onto the roof of the net from the corner.
Hendrick increased the lead with three minutes to go until halftime when a clearance dropped to him on the edge of the area and he took a touch on his chest before firing an unstoppable volley into the top corner. Davies hit the bar with a curling freekick from twentyfive yards that had Steele grasping at thin air and Scott McDonald had a header that didn`t really trouble Adam Legzdins at the other end with the last effort of the half.
Boro started the second half with a higher tempo and started pushing Derby back but the first effort of note belonged to Sammon and he really should have scored a third when he found himself clean through on goal but Steele saved his first effort before Nicky Bailey got back to clear the striker`s header from the rebound off the line. The former Wigan Athletic player did not have to wait long for a goal though, Will Hughes pulled the ball back to Jacobs on the edge of the area and his shot was not held by Steele allowing Sammon to rifle the ball into the roof of the net from close range with twentyfive minutes to play.
Derby were forced back as the visitors looked for a lifeline and substitute Ishmael Miller tested Legzdins` reactions with a snapshot from the just inside the area but the goalkeeper reacted well to parry his effort to safety. John Brayford made a superb goal saving tackle on Miller as he looked set to pounce from ten yards as the ball bounced around in the area and Boro found a consolation goal when Miller looked to pull back Brayford down the left but play continued and his low cross was converted by Lukas Jutkiewicz from close range.
Derby County: Legzdins; Brayford, Keogh, O`Brien, Freeman; Coutts, Hendrick, Hughes, Davies; Jacobs (Tyson 77), Sammon (Hoganson 87).
Subs Not Used: Fielding, Doyle, Gjokaj, Robinson, O`Connor.
Middlesbrough: Steele; Parnaby, R. Williams, Woodgate (Thomson 36), Halliday; Bailey, Smallwood, Leadbitter (Miller 65), Reach; McDonald (L. Williams 46), Jutkiewicz.
Subs Not Used:Leutwiler, Zemmama, Burgess, Weldon.