Derby County completed their ninth consecutive victory over fierce rivals Leeds United, as second-half goals from Paul Coutts and Jake Buxton cancelled out Ross McCormack’s opener.
McCormack’s beautifully curled strike in the 67th minute put the home side ahead, before Conor Sammon’s penalty cannoned back off the post to Coutts, who duly poked the rebound into the net.
Buxton ensured all three points in the 88th minute when he rose highest to glance home Ben Davies’ corner, and propel Derby up to eighth in the npower Championship.
With a fierce rivalry between the sides stemming from the Brian Clough and Don Revie era, the combination of nervousness and fatigue following fixtures over the Easter weekend, led to possession interchanging flittingly between the two teams.
Goal scoring opportunities in the opening period were scarce, so much so, that Frank Fielding punching Stephen Warnock’s in-swinging free-kick away, amidst a crowd of bodies, was the closest either goalkeeper came to making a save in the initial half-an-hour, as both teams struggled to gain the ascendency.
Former Derby striker Luke Varney almost bucked the trend when he dragged a shot wide from a tight angle inside the penalty area, but arguably the most notable event of the first 35 minutes was Craig Bryson’s withdrawal through injury, whilst Buxton’s collision with one of Sky Sports’ pitch-side cameras evoked the loudest cheer.
That was until five minutes prior to the interval when Republic of Ireland international Paul Green thundered a fierce drive against the underside of the crossbar, before Conor Sammon led the Rams’ riposte two minutes later, when he latched onto Chris Martin’s neatly threaded through ball, but could not get the better of the advancing Paddy Kenny.
The opening stages of the second-half elicited more opportunities than all of the chances in the first-half combined, as Martin’s hooked effort was claimed by Kenny despite Sammon’s presence, whilst substitute Michael Jacobs got a piece of his anatomy in the way of Green’s shot.
The chances continued to flow (relatively) with Jeff Hendrick forcing Kenny into action with a 20-yard drive, before Rodolph Austin sent a snap shot narrowly wide.
However, the deadlock was finally broken in the 66th minute. Fielding punched Warnock’s corner clear to the edge of the penalty area, where Green remained composed to tee up substitute McCormack, who curled the ball into the roof of the net.
But like the common cliché of ‘waiting for a bus then two came along at once’, the Rams had to wait just five minutes for an opportunity to equalise. Martin initially evaded the advances of Pearce, before tangling with the former Portsmouth defender in the penalty area, leaving referee Roger East with little option other than to award the spot-kick.
Although Sammon’s subsequent effort from eight-yards rebounded off of the post, Coutts reacted quickest to stab the loose ball into the corner.
Fortunately the woodwork remained in the Rams’ favour minutes later, as Samuel Byrom climbed highest at the far post to head against the crossbar.
But as the game entered the final ten minutes, it was the Rams who poured forward in search of an elusive winning goal, and following Davies’ free-kick being tipped over by Kenny, the midfielder then sent a corner in from the right, which was met by Buxton’s firm header, to seal Derby’s ninth consecutive victory over the West Yorkshire side.
Derby County: Fielding; Freeman, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Coutts, Hendrick, Bryson (Jacobs 34), Davies (Gjokaj 90); Martin, Sammon.
Subs not used: Deeney, O’Connor, Doyle, Bennett, Hoganson.
Leeds United: Kenny, Byram, Pearce, Peltier, Warnock, Green, Austin, Dawson (McCormack 57), Diouf (White 65), Morison, Varney.
Subs not used: Ashdown, Brown, Tonge, Norris, Habibou.