Derby County tasted defeat in the League for the first time at Pride Park during 2013, as Ian Hollway’s automatic promotion chasing Crystal Palace sealed the three points courtesy of Yannick Bolasie’s first-half strike.
The former Plymouth Argyle winger raced onto a deflected clearance before dribbling the ball round Adam Legzdins
to net the only goal in an enthralling 90 minutes of attacking football.
The Rams were extremely unfortunate not to garner at least a point, as John Brayford rattled the underside of the crossbar in the first-half, whilst Conor Sammon saw his 87th minute penalty superbly clawed onto the crossbar by Julian Speroni.
Derby threatened early on as home debutant Chris Martin’s close-range header was blocked at the near post, prior to Bryson’s snapshot from the edge of the penalty area flashing wide of Speroni’s goal.
But the visitors soon showed their hand in attack as Wilfried Zaha’s low shot was beaten away by Legzdins at his near post, whilst Brighton and Hove Albion loanee Stephen Dobbie rifled a half-volley into the ground that drifted narrowly wide in the opening 10 minutes.
It was Holloway’s men who went on to take the lead, in the most peculiar and fortuitous circumstances. Jeff Hendrick’s tackle on Miles Jedinak deflected the ball 40-yards towards the Irishman's goal, culminating in a sprinters race between Bolasie and Richard Keogh. It was the winger who reacted quickest, as the former Bristol City midfielder latched onto the loose ball before rounding Legzdins and firing into the top corner.
Jedinak came within millimetres of compounding the Rams’ misery seconds later when his 25-yard drive crashed against the top of the crossbar, midst a move that saw Zaha display numerous exquisite touches.
Derby suffered a major blow minutes before the break when top scorer Ward limped out of the action, to be replaced by Michael Jacobs.
The Rams had a cluster of opportunities prior to the interval to level the scoreline, as Paul Coutts’ low cross was only half cleared as far as Martin, who’s subsequent low drive was superbly kept out by former teammate Speroni.
Then Brayford outwitted Dean Moxey down the right-hand side before seeing his fierce drive, from a tight angle, cannon off the underside of the crossbar.
However, for all their positive attacking intent, Derby were almost caught out in two swift counter-attacking moves.
Firstly Bolasie neatly threaded Dobbie through in the host’s penalty area, where the forward poked wide at the near post, prior to Bolasie himself beating the advances of Legzdins for the second time in the game, only to be denied by Bryson on the line, who headed the ball clear.
During the premature stages of the second 45 minutes, Derby continued in their search of an equaliser with their customary tirade of attacking intent at Pride Park.
The lively Jacobs outmuscled Ashley Richards and squared the ball to Sammon, whose low shot was beaten away by Speroni , before the visitors, once again, demonstrated their danger on the break when substitute Jonathan Williams ghosted through the Rams’ midfield and was denied by Legzdins’ agile stop.
If the Rams were going to find a leveller, it appeared as though substitute Jacobs was the most likely to act as provider with his spark of ingenuity. And in the 66th minute a Jacobs free-kick somehow evaded the onrushing Sammon and Martin as the ball fizzed harmlessly wide, prior to the former Northampton winger spurning an opportunity of his own as he dragged a volley wide from eight-yards out.
In the final 10 minutes, Derby were handed a way back into the game when substitute Ben Davies was brought down in the penalty area, handing Conor Sammon the opportunity to equalise from the spot. However, the Irishman’s penalty was superbly kept out by Speroni, who tipped the striker’s effort onto the crossbar.
Derby County: Legzdins; Brayford, Keogh, Buxton, Roberts; Coutts (Davies 84), Hendrick, Bryson; Ward (Jacobs 41), Sammon, Martin (Bennett 79).
Subs Not Used: Fielding, Gjokaj, Hoganson, Doyle.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Richards (Williams 60), Bolasie (Phillips 73), Dikgacoi, Dobbie (Butterfield 58), Jedinak, Zaha, Murray, Moxey, Delaney, Ramage.
Subs Not Used: Price, Parr, Marrow, Wilbraham.