Derby County fell to a 3-2 defeat to Luton Town after a dramatic second-half at Kenilworth Stadium on Tuesday evening.
After a relatively quiet first-half, the game came alive in the second after Wayne Rooney fired in his first goal in a Derby shirt, via a deflection.
Within ten minutes, Luton were ahead after goals from Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Donervon Daniels, with both coming from set pieces. Chris Martin came of the bench to draw the scores level with five minutes to play with a powerful header, but straight down the other end Jayden Bogle’s own goal proved to be the winner for the Hatters.
The Rams were then reduced to ten men in the final minute when Max Lowe was shown a straight red card for putting his hands on the referee while protesting a decision.
The best chance of the half for either side came in the sixth minute, and it fell to the home side. The Rams looked to break from the corner, but Simon Sluga cleared upfield. The ball was played over the top to Harry Cornick on the edge of the box, who slipped through the Rams defenders and just had Ben Hamer to beat.
The Hatters’ forward looked to lob the Derby stopper, who rushed far off his line to meet him at the edge of the box, and get his body in the way to block the shot.
Cocu’s side enjoyed long spells of build-up play, but as they failed to carve out clear cut chances, Luton, at times, looked dangerous on the break, but Derby’s defence handled Kazenga LuaLua, in particular, down the right and his crosses in well.
Rooney, playing in a more advanced role than we have seen him so far in a Derby shirt created space on the left before taking aim, but his effort was comfortably saved by Sluga.
In the final minutes of the half, LuaLua cut in from the right for the hosts and drilled a shot goal bound that was defected and curled just wide of the top right corner. The Rams had a penalty shout in added time when Lowe’s cross from the left was met by Martyn Waghorn, who was seemingly fouled in the area, however, the referee waved off the protests.
A minute after the break, the Rams looked to almost to break through the Hatters’ tight defence. A good tackle by Max Bird in the middle of the park saw the ball quickly played forward. Duane Holmes set the ball out to Waghorn on the right who drilled his effort across. The shot was blocked to Holmes in the middle of the box, but Matty Pearson got in the way and cleared the danger.
Ten minutes later, the Rams were denied by the crossbar in their attempts to break the deadlock. Jayden Bogle delivered a superb cross from the right. With three waiting in the box, it fell perfectly to Tom Lawrence in front of goal who swung his effort into the underside of the bar.
In the 63rd minute, Rooney stuck to put the Rams ahead. Holmes squared to him on the edge of the box and he rifled his effort that took a slight deflection as it hurtled into the back of the net
Luton almost instantly equalised less than a minute later when a cross in found Cornick at the back post, but his effort was denied by Lowe’s block.
The leveller did come just two minutes later after Derby were unable to fully clear James’ Bree’s corner. It fell to Ruddock on the edge of the area to hit the half-volley in.
The Hatters were ahead less than ten minutes later from another corner which substitute Daniels headed in.
With five minutes left to play, it was another substitute to score. This time is was Martin for Derby just five minutes after coming off the bench. Another brilliant ball by Bogle found the forward to head in.
Instantly, however, the Hatters regained the lead through Cornick who’s shot was turned into the back of the net. Just minutes later, Lowe was show a straight red card for putting his hands of the referee after a free-kick was awarded to Luton for a pass back.
Th Rams will return home looking to quickly bounce back against Stoke City on Friday night.
Luton Town: Sluga; Bree, Pearson (Daniels, 60), Bradley, Potts; Rea; Tunnicliffe, Ruddock; Collins; Cornick (Berry, 90), LuaLua (Brown, 68)
Unused Subs: Shea, McManaman, Shinnie, Moncur
Derby County: Hamer; Bogle, Wisdom, Clarke, Lowe; Knight (Martin, 79), Bird, Holmes (Marriott, 79), Lawrence; Rooney, Waghorn
Unused Subs: Roos, Forsyth, Shinnie, Davies, Whittaker