Derby County fell to a 2-1 defeat to Luton Town at Kenilworth Road on Saturday afternoon in their first away trip of the 2020/21 Sky Bet Championship campaign.
Luke Berry gave the Hatters the lead in the first-half when the tip of his boot was able to stretch to poke in the opening goal. Jack Marriott then opened his account on the season with his expert low finish that was assisted by Derby’s newest addition, Kamil Jozwiak in his debut for the club.
In the dying minutes, Jordan Clark headed in the winning goal at the back post to send the Rams home without any points.
Craig Forsyth was named in the starting line-up to earn his 200th start for Derby County, while summer signing Nathan Byrne made his full debut for the Rams.
The Rams began the game brighter and with more energy and intensity than we have seen so far in the early stages of the 2020/21 campaign. The opening 15 minutes were dominated by Derby moving the ball round well and getting in good areas, but still they struggled to produce in the final third.
While the chances proved hard to come by for the Rams, Luton began to find a way into the game and were looking far more dangerous in front of goal with Harry Cornick leading the way.
Just ahead of the 20 minute mark, he showed what a threat he could be. With his back to the goal, he managed to turn and get a low shot away that dinged against the outside of the near post.
He then showed off his pace, by twice in a matter of ten minutes, bursting down the right flank before firing a cross towards James Collins. Both times, however, Collins was closely marked by Andre Wisdom.
For the first, the Rams’ defender kept glued to his man and ensured that Collins was unable to turn his shot in at the far post.
Soon after, just ahead of the 30-minute mark, Wisdom brilliantly slid in with a perfectly timed tackle to slide the ball out of reach for Collins to poke home.
Their goal came with ten minutes to go in the half when Elliot Lee delivered a great ball into the area that slotted between the Derby defence and Berry’s outstretched leg managed to poke the ball into net with the tip of his boot.
Immediately after the restart, Derby came inches away from drawing level through Louie Sibley who had just come off the bench.
Jason Knight swung a pinpoint cross that flashed across the face of the goal towards Sibley at the back post, who slide in was mis-timed by a fraction of a second.
That bright start continued and, unlike the first half, things were starting to come together in the final third as well.
Just seven minutes into the they found their equaliser through a good team effort. Max Bird played the ball round the edge of the box to Jozwiak who cut back to Marriott.
The forward expertly drilled a low effort past Simon Sluga.
Just a minute later, Derby almost grabbed the lead with Jozwiak looking to turn from provider to scorer when he latched on to the end of Byrne’s cross, but his effort was sent over the cross bar.
Jahmal Hector-Ingram came off the bench in the 64th minute to replace Marriott who had picked up a knock. A minute later, and with his first touch, the young striker came so close to giving the Rams the lead.
Wisdom sent a great ball down to Byrne, who fed into Hector-Ingram. He held of his marker well on the edge of the six-yard box, but his close-range strike was blocked by the Hatters’ keeper.
The hosts restored their lead with four minutes left to play. After a break in play to tend to Jozwiak who had a clash of knees, the Rams’ focus seemed to lapse from the free-kick that resumed play.
Rhys Norrington-Davies fired a cross over to Jordan Clark who dived in to head the in the winner.
Wayne Rooney had one final chance in the sixth and final minute of added time, but he dragged his low effort just wide.
Phillip Cocu's side will be back in action next Saturday when they welcome Blackburn Rovers to Pride Park Stadium.
Luton Town: Sluga; Cranie, Pearson, Bradley, Norrington-Davies; Berry, Rea (Bree, 45); Cornick (Moncur, 83), Mpanzo, Lee (Clark, 83); Collins
Unused Subs: Shea, Hylton, Shinnie, Lua-Lua
Derby County: Marshall; Byrne, Wisdom, Clarke, Forsyth; Bird, Shinnie (Sibley, 45); Jozwiak (Whittaker, 88), Rooney, Knight; Marriott (Hector-Ingram, 64)
Unused Subs: Roos, Evans, Buchanan, Davies