Rams edge out Clarets
30-01-07 -- 7.45pm
Rams march on - six points clear!
Derby County 1 Burnley 0
Steve Howard's 12th goal of the season earned the Rams fifth successive league victory, in a match which ended with both managers and a Burnley midfield Eric Djemba-Djemba being sent off. With results elsewhere going the Rams way tonight they sit six points clear at the top of the league.
Billy Davies made six changes to the side that beat Bristol Rovers in the FA cup, bringing back Mark Edworthy, Dean Leacock, Stephen Pearson, David Jones, Matt Oakley and Gary Teale. Both Giles Barnes and Seth Johnson missed the game, and with the transfer speculation involving both players a move away from Pride Park could be still on the cards. Burnley boss Steve Cotterill handed Joey Gudjonsson his full Burnley debut, the Icelandic midfielder replaced Chris McCann in midfield as one of three changes to the side that lost to Stoke City last time out. The other changes were Kyle Lafferty, who came into the midfield, and John McGreal, who replaced Frank Sinclair at the back.
In recent home games the Rams supporters have had to wait for late goals to win game, but not tonight Howard putting the leaders in front after only four minutes. David Jones was brought down by Djemba-Djemba, and he got up to find Howard at the back post, who headed home.
The early goal eased some of the nerves for the Rams, and the pair combined again two minutes later, Howard flicking on a long throw and Jones fired inches wide. The Rams were dominating and Howard was close again on 20 minutes, Jones again was the architect, sending Craig Fagan down the left. His cross found Howard who hit the post. Fagan was involved again minutes later, he crossed for Jones whose header was saved by Mike Pollitt.
After the initial onslaught the Clarets settled, and on the half-hour they had their best chance. They won a free kick 20-yard from goal and debutant Gudjonsson, shot was saved by Stephen Bywater. The visitors suffered a blow just before the break when skipper Wayne Thomas limped off the field and was replaced by Stephen Foster.
Burnley started the second half the better and James O'Connor's header from Wade Elliott's cross was caught just underneath the bar by Bywater. The Rams boss Davies, was then banished for the second League match running after a heated argument with referee Riley, after a challenge by Fagan on Djemba-Djemba. But for all their possession the visitors hadn`t really tested Bywater, and it was Derby who began to take control. In the 58th minute Pearson made a darting run down the left, before cutting the ball back to Jones, whose shot was wide.
Burnley, who has not won in 10 games, went in search of the equaliser, Gudjonsson was found free on the right side of the penalty area and he headed the ball back across the box to Lafferty, whose shot was easily saved by Bywater.
The best chance for the Clarets came in the 71st minute for substitute Foster. He received a cross in space on the edge of the area, but he volleyed high and wide, he should have done better from that position, and moments later Lafferty's low shot required a smart save from Bywater.
The Rams again had their fans on the edge of their seats, and late on Burnley almost leveled, Lafferty received the ball in space in the 83rd minute, but his shot was wide.
Rams second half substitute Morten Bisgaard had a shot well saved by Pollitt four minutes later and in the final minute the game exploded again. Cotterill received his marching orders in stoppage-time following a heated exchange with Derby's former Burnley defender, Mo Camara, moments after Djemba-Djemba was also shown a second yellow card and was sent off.
Derby County: Bywater; Edworthy, Moore, Leacock, Camara; Teale (Bisgaard, 60), Oakley, Jones, Pearson, Fagan; Howard.
Subs not used: M Johnson, Peschisolido, Lupoli, Malcolm.
Burnley: Pollitt; Thomas (Foster, 45), Duff, McGreal, Harley (McCann, 90); Gudjonsson, Elliott (Mahon, 70), Djemba-Djemba, J O'Connor, Lafferty; Akinbiyi.
Subs not used: Coyne (gk), G O'Connor.
Referee: M Riley (W Yorkshire).
On Rams goal scorer Steve Howard -
"Steve Howard's goal return is terrific - three in three games,' Derby said.
"He's now getting better service with more balls into the box and the delivery from set pieces is better. David Jones' cross in for the goal was terrific. Steve will always put his head on the line and it's great for him that he's up there with the leading goal scorers in the division.
"His determination rubs off on everyone in the team and the crowd joins in.'
On the performance -
"Burnley are a big, powerful team and we knew it was going to be difficult. It was never going to be free-flowing and after the first 25 it was a scrap. But we kept a clean sheet and got another valuable three points - that's the important thing.
"Every game is vital and we will do whatever it takes to win that game. Burnley are tough to play against - we had a close encounter at Turf Moor just before Christmas and we knew one goal might do it.
"Now we have a massive game at Southampton on Saturday and, with results going for us today, if we keep doing things right no one can catch us."
On his sending off -
"I took exception to Mo Camara pushing out at Kyle Lafferty, a 19-year-old kid, said Cotterill.
"He came over and I said 'Oi Camara, what are you pushing him for?
"I did not swear, but what will happen somewhere along the line is they will say 'use of language'.
"Is it a winnable case? No chance, because it never is and I don't know whether appealing is worth it.
"What are we going to do - take the passion out of the game? If that is what we want, then the fans won't come.
"I thought it was a passionate game all round, but did Djemba-Djemba deserve to be sent off? No. Did Billy Davies? No."
On the performance -
"We are delighted with our performance and I can't believe we lost that game.
"We fell asleep from a free kick, but other than that we have come to a team at the top of the table, we have dominated but not come away with anything and that's a disappointment.
"On another night Kyle Lafferty could have had a hat trick and that is the best we have played for a while.
'If we can keep up that sort of performance then we will get the results."