Derby County returned to their winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
After an extended break due to the postponement of their game against Barnsley last weekend, Wayne Rooney’s side had to wait a week and a half to write the wrong of the 3-0 defeat against Rotherham United.
Lee Gregory marked his full debut for the Rams with a brilliant all-round performance that earned him a goal and assist in the opening half. He broke the deadlock in the opening stages of the game when Lee Buchanan headed back across goal from a corner and the forward powered his header in from close range.
He was in the middle of the action again soon after when he picked out Colin Kazim-Richards and the striker unleashed from outside the area with a right-footed rocket that blasted off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net.
Before the first half came to a close, Boro pulled one back when a rebounded shot fell to the feet of Neeskens Kebano who applied the finish from close range.
Teden Mengi made his debut for the Rams, coming off the bench in the second half after signing on deadline day on loan from Manchester United.
Within 15 minutes, the Rams grabbed the lead as Gregory got off the mark for the Rams. Waghorn directed the corner from the right towards the back post. Lee Buchanan headed back across goal to Roberts in the six-yard box and his bullet header rippled into the back of the net.
Less than ten minutes later, the forward almost doubled his tally with another headed effort, just time glancing it just wide of the far post.
The second goal came just after the 30-minute mark in spectacular fashion. Waghorn found space down the right flank and fed through to Roberts. The forward played back out wide to the right and Kazim-Richards rushed over and lashed his shot from 25-yards out and it rattled off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net.
Middlesbrough pulled one goal back with just over five minutes left to play when Marc Bola intercepted the ball and went on the counter-attack. His shot was deflected into the path of Kebano who struck past David Marshall from close range.
In the final minute of the half, the Rams were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box when Kamil Jozwiak was brought down. Martyn Waghorn stood behind it, having scored from a similar position earlier in the season against Cardiff City. He drilled it into the wall and then struck the rebound on the volley into the chest of Marcus Bettinelli.
The goal scorers linked up again ten minutes into the second half when Gregory picked up a loose ball in the middle of the pitch and drove forward at Paddy McNair. He was forced wide and spotted Kazim-Richards running in to the left side of the box. His cross met his fellow striker perfectly to nod just over the bar.
Chances came few and far between for both sides for the remainder of the half with no clear cut chances coming. With four minutes remaining Darnell Fisher struck from inside the area as Boro applied some late pressure, but his shot was blocked and Derby rode out the final minutes of pressure.
Derby County: Marshall (C), Wisdom, Shinnie, Jozwiak (Mengi, 86), Waghorn, Byrne, Kazim-Richards, Clarke, Gregory (Bird, 74), Buchanan, Knight.
Substitutes: Roos, Forsyth, Roberts, Baningime, McDonald, Watson.
Middlesbrough: Bettinelli, Dijksteel, Morsy, Assombalonga (C) (Akpom, 59), Howson, McNair, Watmore (Mendez-Laing, 65), Fisher, Kebano, Saville (Hall, 59), Bola.
Substitutes: Archer, Johnson, Fletcher, Spence, Coulson.