Derby County tasted defeat at Pride Park for only the second time in the League this season, as automatic promotion chasing Hull City secured a hard fought 2-1 victory.
The Tigers took the lead against the run of play when captain Robert Koren swept home Stephen Quinn’s low cross, before the Rams levelled on the stroke of half-time thanks to a sweetly struck volley from Michael Jacobs – his first goal in a Derby shirt.
However, Hull sealed the three points through experienced defender Abdoulaye Faye’s far-post header just five minutes into the second-half.
And although Derby gave it their all, Nigel Clough’s men just could not find a way past a stubborn Hull side who maintained the npower Championship’s strongest away record.
Like we have seen at Pride Park this season, the Rams started the game with a high intensity, very much on the front foot, and were unfortunate not to take an early lead when Jacobs rifled a free-kick in from a tight angle, but his cross-come-shot was headed clear on its route to goal.
Then in the 17th minute some neat, intricate passing from the Rams on the edge of the penalty area between Will Hughes and Jeff Hendrick almost resulted in an opportunity for the home side, but James Chester nicked the ball off the toes of the former, who had the Tigers’ goal in his crosshairs.
Derby’s high-tempo start had the home supporters right behind them, and it looked as though it would only be a matter of time until Nigel Clough’s men broke their way through a stubborn Hull City back-line.
However, Hull proved exactly why they have the best away record in the npower Championship, as in their first venture into the Rams’ penalty they took full advantage to net an opening goal, and in turn, stun the home fans.
Former Sheffield United midfielder Quinn found space on the left before cutting the ball back to an onrushing Koren, and the Slovenian international made no mistake from eight-yards out as he coolly slotted the ball past Adam Legzdins
Clough’s men battled back through long-range efforts from Craig Bryson and Hughes, but neither strike forced debutant goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic into a save, whilst in a swift counter-attacking move, Conor Sammon’s fizzed low cross was inches away from Hendrick who had made a lung-busting run to keep up with the action.
With the half coming to a close, the Rams continued in their search of an equaliser and almost found one too when Jacobs’ dipping cross left ‘keeper Jakupovic back-peddling, but the unsure shot-stopper got back in time to tip the ball over the crossbar.
However, from the resulting corner Derby found themselves back on level terms thanks to a terrific strike from Jacobs. Paul Coutts’ corner was only half cleared to the edge of the penalty area by Abdoulaye Faye, where Jacobs was lurking, and the former Northampton Town winger sent a sweetly struck 20-yard volley into the bottom corner.
The visitors started the second 45 minutes on top as Bruce’s men mounted pressure on the Rams, and within five minutes of the restart, Hull took the lead for the second time in the game when Faye towered above the Derby’s defence at the far post, to nod Robbie Brady’s corner into the net.
Once again the Rams had to show their fighting spirit and strength of character to overturn Hull’s early second-half goal, and duly responded as Jacobs sent a free-kick into the arms of Jakupovic, before Coutts cut inside from the right and forced the Tigers’ ‘keeper into a terrific stop, as he clawed the ball behind.
The Rams continued to press their opponents but found it difficult to penetrate a resilient Hull side, although Clough’s men did have opportunities to draw level in the final five minutes.
John Brayford saw his close-range volley valiantly blocked, prior to the former Crewe Alexendra man sending another effort agonisingly wide following a deflection – as the home supporters tried to suck the ball into the net.
Despite the Rams' late efforts, it was a resilient Hull side that secured the points - their fourth straight npower Championship victory.
Derby County: Legzdins; Brayford, Keogh, O’Connor, Roberts (Davies 87); Coutts, Hendrick, Bryson, Hughes, Jacobs (Robinson 78); Sammon.
Subs Not Used: Fielding, Gjokaj, Freeman, Tyson, O’Brien.
Hull City: Jakupovic; Chester, Hobbs, Faye; Elmohamady, Quinn, Evans, Koren (Cairney 90), Meyler, Brady; Simpson (Proschwitz 76).
Subs Not Used: Amos, Rosenior, McLean, McShane, Ojofinjana.
Attendance: 25,442 (1,201 Visiting Supporters).