Rams v Wigan - Report
Rams hit late again
A goal in the 82nd minute from substitute Antoine Sibierski was enough to give Wigan their first away league victory of the season and condemn the Rams to a seventh straight home defeat.
Paul Jewell made six changes to the side that lost 0-1 at Bolton Wanderers last time out in the league. Five were making their league debuts for the Rams, Robbie Savage - who was given the captain`s armband - Hossam Ghaly, Emanuel Villa, Danny Mills, Laurent Robert, also Andy Todd came in to the back four to replace Darren Moore. Kenny Miller and Jay McEveley were out injured, and Eddie Leis and Gary Teale dropped to the bench.
Steve Bruce made two changes to the side that drew impressively 1-1 at Liverpool last time out with Emmerson Boyce and Wilson Palacios replacing Paul Scharner and Ryan Taylor.
It was a quiet opening to the vital clash but the first real chance fell to the visitors, Antonio Valencia was found in the box by Palacios's cross but scuffed his shot.
The Rams settled and their first opportunity came on eight minutes, Robert's first touch in a Derby shirt saw his 30-yard free-kick saved by Chris Kirkland. Then Villa went close to opening his Rams account, but his close-range shot was saved again by Kirkland - though it wouldn't have counted with the flag up for offside.
Wigan began to take control of the game and should have taken the lead on 24 minutes. Ecuadorian midfielder Valencia escaped down the right and crossed to Marcus Bent who fired over from 10-yards. Then Marcus Brown`s shot forced Price into a smart save, the rebound was tapped home from close-range by Bent, but the assistant referee had his flag raised for offside.
Derby was struggling to get into the game which was to be expected with so many new faces in the line-up but Jewell knew a victory was vital for the Rams. Their best move of the game came five minutes before the break; Todd released Craig Fagan down the right who found Robert. The Frenchman`s intelligent ball found Ghaly, who should have shot but instead slipped a pass through to Giles Barnes but the Rams youngster couldn't quite reach it unmarked in the box.
But as the half ended the Rams again had a lucky escape, Heskey escaped the offside trap and pulled the ball back into the box to Denny Landzaat, who completely missed his kick from eight-yards with the goal gaping.
The danger wasn`t over there as the Rams failed to clear, and when the ball was played in again Mears was alert to clear off the line and Valencia then somehow fired over from close-range with the goal at his mercy.
Jewell`s side opened the second half well but struggled to open up the Latic`s defence, Villa was working hard up front but this was a tough introduction to English football for the Argentinean.
Wigan looked the more likely to score and went close on 55 minutes the lively Bent curled a 25-yard shot that was tipped around the post by Lewis Price, but to the travelling supporters dismay referee Mark Clattenburg gave a goal kick.
The turning point of the game came on 58 minutes when the Rams were reduced to ten men. Rams defender Davis, who was already on a yellow, caught Bent with a stray arm as both players went up for a ball, and Clattenburg had no hesitation in cautioning the Jamaican for the second time.
Jewell had to re-arrange things and brought on Marc Edworthy for Robert, with Barnes moving out to the left. Edworthy dropped in at right-back, Mears shifted over to the left, and Mills joined Andy Todd in the centre.
After the send off it was the Rams who threaten first Fagan made a darting run from the right, but his shot flew just past the post. Then Wigan`s second half substitute Jason Koumas threatened after Savage had been caught in possession but his 25-yard drive was well wide.
The visitors were pressing late and it was another one of Bruce`s substitutes who finally broke the deadlock. Sibierski was brought on with ten minutes to go and with his first touch scored the winner. Bent nodded down a long clearance and it dropped out on the edge of the box to Frenchman who fired home a sweet half-volley into the bottom-corner of the net that left Price with no chance.
It was another late blow for the Rams but they went in search of the equaliser, Savage free-kick found Mears in the box but he couldn't direct his diving header towards goal.
The visitors held on to gain the victory and for what could prove a vital three points in the relegation battle.
Derby: Price, Mears, Davis, Todd, Mills, Fagan, Savage, Ghaly (Macken 85), Robert (Edworthy 59), Villa (Teale 71), Barnes.
Subs Not Used: Hinchliffe, Lewis.
Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Boyce, Kilbane, Valencia, Brown, Palacios (Koumas 64), Landzaat (Sibierski 81), Heskey, Bent (Olembe 90).
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Aghahowa.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).
Hossam Ghaly - A solid debut from the Egyptian and with a little more composer he could have opened his Rams account in the first half
Derby manager Paul Jewell:
'It looked like one goal was going to decide it - and I could never see us scoring.
'We tried manfully but we're not bottom because we're unlucky. It's because we're not good enough, and that's a fact.
'We've got to be bigger and stronger, and the players who are here have got to be better.'
'By half-time we should have been out of sight. We had two or three great opportunities.
'The second half was a dull affair. We were perhaps better against 10 men, but then Sibierski came up with the goal.
'Paul Jewell reshuffled things after the sending-off and made it difficult for us. Our real chances were in the first half.'