Derby County fell to a 3-2 defeat at Ashton Gate against Bristol City in their midweek Sky Bet Championship clash.
The Robins pulled ahead by two goals in the closing stages of the first half through Nahki Wells and Filip Benkovik. That led was then extended shortly after the break by Famara Diedhiou on the end of a cross from close range.
Derby responded almost immediately after when Martyn Waghorn dived to head in his 11th goal of the season on the end of Max Lowe’s cross who returned to the starting line-up after serving a three-match ban for the red card he received against Luton Town.
Chris Martin pulled another goal back with less than ten minutes to play when he fired in from close range, but despite pushing Bristol until the final minute, Phillip Cocu’s side couldn’t find the leveller.
The opening stages were dominated by neat passing and good build up play from the Rams. That almost accumulated in the opening goal on the 17-minute mark starting from a free-kick by the half-way line.
Wayne Rooney sent the ball downfield from Matt Clarke’s roll. Eventually the all made its way to Max Bird on the edge of the box who had so far been in the centre of all the action for Derby. The young midfielder squeezed the ball past his marker to Duane Holmes towards the right side of the six-yard box, but his tight-angle effort was palmed away by Dan Bentley.
Chances then fell for either side of the half hour mark. After good build-up play again, Rooney’s cross met the head of Waghorn, but it was just out of reach of Chris Martin and Bentley was able to extinguish the danger.
Soon after, Markus Henriksen tried his luck from range for the home side, but his low effort fizzed past the far post.
The Robins then took hold of the game ahead of half time with two late goals in the opening 45 minutes. First, Jack Hunts deep cross picked out Jay Dasilva at the far post. He turned the ball back across goal for Wells to head in at close range.
Their lead was soon doubled from Niclas Eliasson’s corner. Diedhiou headed towards goal but his effort was blocked off the line and fell to defender Benkovik to send in.
Bristol extended their advantage just more than ten minutes into the second half. Jamie Paterson’s sent a short corner to Eliasson who flung a cross towards the back post and Diedhiou fired in from close range.
Just three minutes later, the Rams pulled one goal back. Rooney found Max Lowe down the left flank who crossed into Waghorn in the box. With space around him, the forward dived in to head past Bentley.
The Rams piled on the pressure looking for a second goal and a way back into the game. With 20 minutes left to play, Holmes received the ball in the area after the Robins failed to clear the attack, but as he looked to send the ball back in from a tight angle, it was blocked by the arm of Ashley Williams, however referee Geoff Eltringham waved off the protests.
The second goal came in the 82nd minute when Tom Lawrence weaved down the left side of the box before sending a low ball in towards Martin and the striker slide in to slot the ball in and cut the deficit to one goal. The Rams were unable to find the leveller as time ran out.
Bristol City: Bentley; Hunt, Williams, Benkovic, Dasilva, Eliasson (Weimann, 86), Smith (O’Dowda, 78), Henriksen, Paterson; Diedhiou, Wells (Rowe, 78)
Unused Subs: Wollacott, Baker, Pereira, Palmer
Derby County: Hamer; Bogle, Wisdom, Clarke, Lowe; Bird (Marriott, 89), Holmes; Waghorn, Rooney, Lawrence; Martin
Unused Subs: Roos, Forsyth, Shinnie, Jozefzoon, Davies, Knight