REPORT | Derby County 1 Wanderers 0

Bodvarsson chance Derby

Wanderers headed into the international break on the back of a first defeat in five games as Derby stole a march in the promotion race, writes Pete Oliver.

It’s far from over for the Whites with seven games to try and force their way back into the top two.

But this was a tough one to take after dominating for long periods of a pivotal game before being undone by virtually Derby’s only effort on target as the Rams went four points clear of third-placed Wanderers in the League One table.

Ian Evatt’s side looked the better side for almost all of the contest but, critically, couldn’t get their noses in front as Derby keeper Joe Wildsmith made a couple of superb saved.

And just as it looked as though the Rams were running on empty, they made one of their set-pieces count as Kane Wilson nodded home from a corner to get the goal that was enough to give them a fourth successive win.

Wanderers are therefore outsiders to get back into automatic promotion places over the run-in but the level of their performance still keeps hopes alive of a potentially decisive winning run once they have re-group over the international break.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson header Derby

Evatt named an unchanged line-up from the one that had started the 5-0 mid-week win over Oxford and the Whites picked up where they left off in a scintillating start.

In front of the biggest Pride Park crowd in seven seasons – boosted by over 3,000 travelling fans – Wanderers were all over the home side with some high-quality football which had the Rams at full stretch.

And 17 minutes in a typically fluent move almost created the opening goal.

Nathanael Ogbeta was a regular attacking outlet down the left-hand side and when he delivered the perfect cross, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson got there first with a diving header which looked certain to find the net until Wildsmith stuck out a left hand at full stretch to somehow keep the ball out.

Derby, who lost the services of recent recruit Dwight Gayle to injury shortly afterwards, were well contained by Wanderers when they did look to break, although defender Curtis Nelson did head over the top when well placed from a free-kick as the contest stayed on a knife edge.

Set-pieces looked Derby’s major threat as the game then became increasingly scrappy before Wanderers wound it up again just before the break with a barrage around the Derby box which couldn’t quite find a way to break the deadlock.

Derby goal handball

With Wanderers on top, Derby manager Paul Warne made a triple change at the break to try and reverse the flow, although again it was the Whites with the first effort of the half as Josh Sheehan tested Wildsmith from long range to spark a flurry of corners.

It was Wanderers as they were the ones looking to turn one point into three and Wildsmith same to Rams’ rescue again with just under half an hour to go with an excellent save to deny George Thomason, whose one-two with Aaron Collins had again opened up the County defence.

Wildsmith’s other principal role was to deliver Derby free-kicks from just inside their own half and it was from a set-play that County grabbed the lead against the run of play with just under a quarter of an hour to go.

The Rams were visibly tiring but forced a corner which was delivered by Callum Elder and headed home by fellow substitute Wilson, possibly via a touch off the hand of Martyn Waghorn.

That gave Derby the cushion to then see the game out as they continued to put white shirts behind the ball and defend their box through seven minutes of added time on an afternoon Wanderers’ hopes were blunted but not ended with so many points still to play for.

Wanderers: Coleman; Jones, Almeida Santos, Toal; Sheehan; Dacres-Cogley, Maghoma (Dempsey 84), Thomason (Morley 84), Ogebeta (Williams 79); Bodvarsson (Jerome 76), Collins. Substitutes: Hutchinson, Iredale, Forrester.

Booked: Toal

Derby County: Wildsmith; Nelson, Forsyth, Cashin; Ward (Wilson HT), Adams, Hourihane (Thompson, HT), Sibley (Elder 76); Barkhuizen (Waghorn HT); Mendez-Laing, Gayle (Smith 21).  Substitutes: Loach, Blackett-Taylor.

Booked: Mendez-Laing

Referee: Marc Edwards

Attendance: 32,358 (3,154 away)

Read Time: 4 mins