Derby County fell to a 2-1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in the Sky bet Championships.
It was the Rams who took the lead midway through the first half when Tom Lawrence fired in a free header. Despite Derby being on the front foot for the rest of the half, Rovers equalised in the final minutes through Barry Douglas.
Harvey Elliott found the winning goal for the hosts midway through the second half and despite coming close, Derby couldn’t find the second goal.
Wayne Rooney named defensive duo Nathan Byrne and Matt Clarke back in the starting line-up after the pair recovered from injury to replace Teden Mengi and Kornell McDonald, while Louie Sibley replaced Colin Kazim-Richards in the starting line-up.
It was a steady opening 15 minutes, with just a half-chance for either side. Graeme Shinnie sent a free-kick towards Matt Clarke waiting for the tap in at the post, but his marker just diverted it out of his path before he could convert in the first two minutes.
Moments later, Harvey Elliott cut inside onto his left foot to strike at goal, but his effort flew over the crossbar.
Rovers ramped up their attack on the 20-minute mark and won a free-kick on the edge of the area when Sam Gallagher was brought down by Andre Wisdom. Adam Armstrong lifted his effort over the wall and towards goal, by David Marshall met it to palm it away.
The Rams struggled to clear their lines completely as the hosts kept looking for an opening, but Derby could breathe a sigh of relief when the ball went out for a goal kick.
After riding that storm, Derby immediately went down the other end grabbed the lead. It was a brilliant build up, with Patrick Roberts and Byrne on the overlap in the right of the area. Byrne slightly over-hit the cross, but Shinnie chased it down to send the ball back in. He picked out an open Lawrence at the near post to head past Thomas Kaminski.
Taking the lead only gave the Rams a further lift and on the 30-minute mark they were testing the keeper again. First, Craig Forsyth’s delivery eventually fell to Shinnie who struck from 20-yards out and was denied by Kaminski.
Moments later, the midfielder struck from similar position, but was wiped out at the last moment. Lawrence stood over the free-kick but sent his effort over the crossbar.
With ten minutes left to play in the half, Derby were half a yard from doubling their lead. Great build-up again saw the ball move from left to right with Forsyth finding Roberts, who laid off to Max Bird.
The midfielder looked as though he would shoot from 20-yards out, but instead sent a perfect pass to Sibley in the area. He cut back to Byrne who drove further into the area and squared to Roberts, but his low effort was just wide of the post.
In the final minutes of the half, Rovers drew level from their second corner of the game. Barry Douglas delivered the ball into the near side of the area and Gallagher headed across goal and past Marshall.
The Rams had a final chance to go into the dressing room with the lead when a corner was sent back out to Kamil Jozwiak on the edge of the box who quickly squared to Shinnie. He played through to Sibley who fired low across goal and forced a fingertip save from Kaminski.
Derby showed their intent after the break with Shinnie seeing a goal-bound shot deflected in the first minutes before Roberts skipped past Blackburn defenders and drove all the way into the area, but just lost his footing inside the six-yard box before he could get a shot.
Derby’s bright start to the half almost came undone almost ten minutes in, when a ball over the top from Kaminski was helped along by Lewis Holtby to Armstrong in the area who was denied by Marshall’s legs from close range before Clarke could clear the danger completely.
On the 60-minute mark, Armstrong went one-on-one with Marshall again and was again denied by the Rams’ keeper’s legs and a moment later the Blackburn striker was in the area again and called Marshall into action to tip up another close-range effort.
It was Blackburn who took the lead with just more than 20 minutes left to play. A slip by Wisdom saw the hosts regain possession in Derby’s half and Elliott cut inside and picked his spot.
A few minutes later, Derby came so close to finding the equaliser. Lawrence forced a good save from Kaminski from a free-kick on the edge of the box. Byrne charged in to the back post to grab the rebound which he struck against the post.
Another brilliant chance for the leveller came with five minutes left to play when Kazim-Richards rose the highest at the back post to nod down a cross from Shinnie towards goal, but it was equalled by Kaminski.
There was one final chance for the Rams as Festy Ebosele was caught in the area and went down, but the referee disagreed with the appeals. As the ball popped out, Shinnie sent the ball across to Kazim-Richards at the back post to head down to the bottom corner in the final minute of added time, but the keeper met it.
Blackburn Rovers: Kaminski, Nyambe, Johnson, Armstrong (Evans, 88), Gallagher (Brereton, 83), Douglas, Elliott (Bennett, 83), Holtby (Rothwell, 57), Harwood-Bellis, Travis, Branthwaite.
Substitutes: Pears, Downing, Buckley, Dolan, Bell.
Derby County: Marshall (C), Wisdom, Forsyth (Buchanan, 70), Shinnie, Jozwiak (Watson, 70), Bird, Lawrence (Ebosele, 84), Byrne, Clarke, Sibley (Kazim-Richards, 57), Roberts.
Substitutes: Roos, Dixon, McDonald, Knight, Brown.