Rams down the Magpies
Miller leaves his mark for Rams
Kenny Miller marked his debut at Pride Park last night with a superb goal that gave the Rams their first win of the season and moved them off the foot of the Premier League table.
The late transfer window signing Miller, hit a spectacular shot from 30-yards to send the Rams faithful into raptures. It was a tense final 15 minutes but the Rams hung on and on the balance of play deserved the victory.
Billy Davies made four changes to the side humiliated at Anfield before the international break, in came fit again Dean Leacock and Eddie Lewis, Gary Teale and Miller. They replaced Bob Malcolm, Andy Todd, Mo Camera and the suspended Craig Fagan.
Newcastle recalled Shola Ameobi to their starting line up with Australian International Mark Viduka out injured.
The Rams fans packed Pride Park, and with the game being beamed around the UK and the world on Sky TV, everyone was wondering which Derby County side would turn up on the night. But right from the start the Rams looked bright, Steve Howard, playing against his favourite boyhood side, saw a shot turned away by Steve Harper in the first minute.
The Rams again were guilty of giving the ball away cheaply, but Newcastle didn`t make them pay. One thing that was obvious the Rams were up for the clash, they chased and fought for every ball, and having lost four successive league games, it was just what Coach Davies would have expected in front of packed house.
Then defender Tyrone Mears tested Harper with a shot from the edge of the box, his shot was straight at the keeper. But it was the visitors who should have taken the lead on the half hour, James Milner caught the Derby defence cold, he rounded Stephen Bywater wide on the left hand side of the box, and pulled the ball back to David Rozehnal 12-yards out - but the Czech defender fired wide of the left hand post with the goal at his mercy.
But that miss came back to haunt United with the Rams going ahead on 39 minutes. A long kick by Bywater fell kindly to Miller off Howard, and 30-yards out his first time shot flew into the top corner of Harper`s net, to nearly lift the roof of Pride Park.
The Rams continued their gritty performance after the break and the crowd were up as one when Teale`s cross seemed to hit Claudio Cacapa arm in the penalty area but the referee Paul Walton turned down their strong appeal.
Newcastle had their own penalty claims turned down by referee Walton moments later when Leacock had his arms all over Rozehnal. The same players were involved again minutes later but Walton waved play on again, much to the frustration of the mass ranks of the Toon Army behind the goal.
Michael Owen was substituted early in the second half with a groin strain, with Obafemi Martins coming on for the England striker. But the Rams were determined to hang on to the points and they should have added to the lead late on.
First Howard climbed highest six-yards from goal but his glancing header flew wide. Then Andy Griffin sent Stephen Pearson clear and his fine run into the Newcastle half was brought to a halt by a crude tackle from Nicky Butt who was lucky not receive a red card.
Then it was Howard again nine minutes from time, Gary Teale`s pinpoint cross found Howard in the box, but his diving header flew inches past the post.
The Rams had to endure four minutes stoppage-time but they did this without too much bother to win their first game of the season and inflicting Newcastle`s first defeat of the season. It doesn`t get any easier for the Rams with a trip to league leaders Arsenal on Saturday.
Derby: GK Bywater, Mears, Leacock, Davis, Griffin, Teale, Oakley, Pearson, Lewis (McEveley 87), Howard, Miller (Feilhaber 80).
Subs Not Used: Jones, Earnshaw, Todd.
Newcastle: GK Harper, Taylor (Beye 75), Cacapa, Rozehnal, N'Zogbia, Smith, Geremi (Faye 60), Butt, Milner, Owen (Martins 55), Ameobi.
Subs Not Used: Given, Pattison.
Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).
Billy Davies - Derby County:
'We're up and running.
'We have a lot of hard work ahead, but hopefully we can kick on. We controlled the game and the chances we created were first-class.
'I'm delighted with the players and they can take a lot of confidence from this victory.'
'The sad thing is that we had 14 players away on international duty and and that looked apparent.
'Before the break we were on a roll after the Wigan win, but some of the players looked jaded.
'We had opportunities, but we didn't take them and we were beaten by a wonder goal.
'I just hope Michael's not too serious (Owen came off with a tight groin muscle).
'We don't think it will be, you can expect a little tightness with all the games he's had and particularly the two England games.