The Rams secured their first back-to-back victories of the 2012/13 npower Championship season, after goals from James O’Connor and Nathan Tyson sealed a 2-0 win over Keith Hill’s Barnsley at Pride Park.
O’Connor tapped in from inside the six-yard box to open the scoring in a tightly contested opening 60 minutes, before Tyson ensured all three points with a blockbuster from 25-yards in the 90th minute.
The result moves Derby up to ninth in the Championship and within one point of a Play-Off place.
It was a relatively slow opening at Pride Park as the visitors looked intent on playing slow build-up, possession football.
However, in the eleventh minute John Brayford’s quick thinking provided Paul Coutts with time and space down the right. The Scotsman crossed low towards Theo Robinson, but unfortunately for the Rams the ball was slightly behind the onrushing striker, as Jimmy McNulty cleared for the Tykes.
Barnsley soon responded with chances of their own, as former Rochdale defender Scott Wiseman put the ball through Brayford’s legs before rounding Richard Keogh just outside the Rams’ penalty area. Wiseman kept his composure to pull the ball back for Chris Dagnall, who stabbed an effort wide of the near post.
Shortly after the 20 minute mark, chances began to flow at both ends. Former Ram Tomasz Cywka did well to keep the ball in before crossing to Jacobs Mellis, but the midfielder could only volley over from 12-yards out.
Then Jeff Hendrick sent a 20-yard drive straight into the arms of visiting goalkeeper Luke Steele, before captain Keogh cut inside and dragged an effort wide with his least favoured left foot.
Despite their persistent heavy pressure and high tempo football, the Rams could not find a way through a resolute Barnsley back-line, and it was almost the visitors themselves who took an unlikely lead as Cywka forced Adam Legzdins
into action with a fierce drive.
Before the half was up, Conor Sammon used his strength to hold off the advances of Wiseman and lay to ball square to Will Hughes, who fired low and hard towards goal, but Steele was equal to it.
The second period began just as the first finished with neither side taking the game by the scruff of the net as opportunities continued to flow at both ends. Firstly Dagnall crashed an effort inches wide of Legzdins’ near post, whilst at the other end Robinson’s through ball rebounded off the back of Bryson – to the frustration of the home supporters - who was clean through on goal.
On 60 minutes Coutts’ 20-yard free-kick forced Steele into a fine save after the ball took a slight deflection off the wall, then Bryson fired into the side netting from a tight angle as the Rams began to turn the screw.
And just nine minutes later Derby found an elusive breakthrough. Hughes’ floated free-kick towards the far post was met by the towering head of Keogh, who saw his effort cannon off the inside of the post.
Fortunately for the Rams, O’Connor was on hand to score the easiest goal of his career as he tapped the ball home from on the goal-line to hand Clough’s men the lead.
Substitute Nathan Tyson almost made an immediate impact as he thundered an effort from a tight angle that dropped just the wrong side of the crossbar, before Barnsley almost grabbed an undeserved equaliser when the unmarked Stephen Dawson volleyed over from Tom Kennedy’s corner.
However, the Rams made the game safe in the 90th minute. In a swift counter attacking move, Hughes’ clever intercut ball found Bryson who in turn fed Tyson 25-yards from goal. The former Reading striker took two touches before smashing the ball into the top corner past the despairing dive of Steele to seal the points.
Derby County: Legzdins (GK); Brayford, Keogh, O’Connor, Roberts; Coutts (Freeman 90), Hendrick, Bryson, Hughes; Sammon (Tyson 84), Robinson (Jacobs 75).
Subs Not Used: Deeney (GK), Buxton, Davies, O’Brien.
Barnsley: Steele (GK); Wiseman, McNulty, Kennedy, Golbourne; Cranie; Cywka (Done 72), Dawson, Mellis (O’Brien 79), Etuhu (Harewood 79); Dagnall.
Subs Not Used: Alnwick (GK), Hassell, Foster, Silva.
Attendance: 20,808 (404 Visiting Supporters).