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Rams v Hatters report

Derby County
1 - 0
Luton Town

Pride Park

20th April 2007

Attendance: 28,499


Rams victory sends Luton down

The Rams sealed a nervous and VITAL 1-0 victory in their promotion chase and in the mean time confirmed Luton town`s relegation at Pride Park where Lewin Nyatanga scored the only goal of the game.

The Rams made three changes to the starting line-up, Gary Teale replacing Seth Johnson, Darren Currie replacing Craig Fagan. The surprising move was the inclusion of Lewin Nyatanga for Tyrone Mears. Luton made two changes for the clash, Markus heikkinen and Stephen O`Leart replacing Steve Robinson and Keith Keane

The Hatters had gone into the game knowing any result other than victory would see them doomed and they were lively early on, though it was the Rams who went close to opening the scoring in the eighth minute when Gary Teale nodded David Jones` free kick wide.

Matt Oakley rattled the Luton crossbar from the left channel following a 25-yards free kick, before Matt Spring was allowed time and space on the edge of the Derby penalty area only to curl his effort high and wide.

The Rams pressed again on the half-hour Teale forcing a save from Dean Brill following a one-two with Oakley.
Darren Currie produced a great cross from the bye-line, but Hatters skipper Chris Coyne was required to clear former Luton striker Steve Howard`s header off the line.
Dean Leacock headed a Jones corner over as Derby threatened again but it looked like it was going to be one of those nights.

But that all changed and the deadlock was broken in the 37th minute when another Jones corner was met again by Leacock and spectacularly saved on the line by Brill, but Nyatanga, who was recalled from a loan at Barnsley earlier in the week, was on hand to force home the rebound and net the first Derby goal of his season, the third of his career and his first at Pride Park.

The Rams started the second half seeking to turn the screw through Jones, though the 1million January buy from Manchester United dragged his 18-yard effort wide in the 50th minute, Howard saw his shot ricochet onto the bar and then pounced on the rebound, only to see his next effort somehow diverted away from goal.

Jones then saw a dipping effort land on the top of the Town net in the 71st minute, before substitute Arturo Lupoli, on for Currie, saw his shot saved by Brill`s outstretched boot and Howard blazed the rebound over.
Giles Barnes limped out of the action in the 80th minute when he was replaced by Craig Fagan. The Rams hung on in the last 10 minutes as Luton throw everything at the Rams and Besian Idrizaj tested the Rams goalkeeper Stephen Bywater late on.

But after the three minutes of stoppage-time and with Rams boss Billy Davies pointing at his watch the game was over and a vital three points to the black and whites.

Derby: Bywater, Edworthy, Leacock, Nyatanga, McEveley, Teale (Pearson 73), Oakley, Jones, Currie (Lupoli 65), Howard, Barnes (Fagan 80).
Subs Not Used: Grant, Mears.

Luton: Brill, Foley, Coyne, Barnett, Emanuel, O'Leary (Langley 73), Spring, Heikkinen, Bell, Andrew, Talbot (Idrizaj 65).
Subs Not Used: Perrett, Boyd, Keane.

Att: 28,499.

Ref: R Beeby (Northamptonshire).

Star Player

Vital Man of the Match - Lewin Nyatanga
The Youngster not only scored the winner but was solid at the heart of the defence with Dean Leacock

Manager Rating

After match coaches comments
Billy Davies said: 'There is not a chance of me watching the Wolves-Birmingham game, I will try and spend some time with my family or have a round of golf instead.
"What happens at Molineux has no bearing on what happens with us, I simply see us having two games left in which we will be pushing for automatic promotion.

'In Sunderland and Birmingham we are competing with two clubs who were in the Premiership last season but we are already assured of a play-off place and we are delighted about that.'

Wales international Nyatanga netted in his comeback game after having been recalled from loan at Barnsley this week.

And Davies said: 'It was not a tactical masterstroke to bring him back - it was a case of needs must because we had lost Darren Moore to suspension and Michael Johnson to injury.'

Opponent Rating

Luton manager Kevin Blackwell has been assured he will be granted the funds needed to stage a promotion push out of League One next season.
Blackwell said: ''Was it an impossible job when I took over? Let us say I am just 26 days into the job and it has been interesting.
'I know coming straight back up after relegation will be difficult for us because it is not the norm for teams to bounce straight back and we will be seen as a scalp in League One next season.
''The new chairman wants a new stadium, a new training ground and has given me the opportunity to rebuild the club from top to bottom, but we will also need funds to strengthen and he has assured me those funds will be made available.`

Writer:Peter Simcox
Date:Sunday April 22 2007
Time: 10:45AM

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