Colin Kazim-Richards’ first goal of the season was enough for the Rams to secure all three points against promotion-chasers West Bromwich Albion at Pride Park Stadium.
The forward, who was introduced in the 57th minute, took only 60 seconds to mark his arrival as he scored the game’s only goal.
He capitalised on a mix up in the West Brom defence and fired into the empty goal from 25 yards to secure a big three points for Derby County against a strong Baggies side.
Manager Wayne Rooney made five changes to the side which beat Blackpool at Pride Park Stadium two weeks previous as his Rams’ squad was again hit by issues with COVID-19.
And against high-flyers West Bromwich Albion, the Rams had to be alert from the first whistle as the visitors came into the game on a five-match unbeaten run.
Grady Diangana had the games first opportunity as he capitalised on a mistake at the back. He drove at the defence and shot from the edge of the box but goalkeeper Ryan Allsop made the save.
Derby went close themselves soon after as Max Bird found Jason Knight 25 yards from goal but the Irish midfielder fired over the crossbar.
West Brom started to assert themselves on proceedings as the Rams picked up two bookings in quick succession. Skipper for the afternoon Curtis Davies hauled down Diangana, whilst Liam Thompson’s late challenge on Darnell Furlong was punished by the referee.
Jake Livermore was twice denied by a stray Derby County leg as he had two opportunities on goal, whilst Adam Reach headed into the arms of Allsop just after the half hour mark.
After former Rams’ defender Matt Clarke was cautioned for a late challenge on Knight, West Brom had a perfect opportunity to take the lead five minutes before the break.
Livermore threaded a neat through ball to Callum Robinson to strike but he fired straight at Allsop, who made a great save, to ensure it remained goalless at the break.
Derby’s goal led a charmed life in the early moments of the second half as West Brom forced a number of set piece opportunities.
They did think they took the lead on 54 minutes as Adam Reach found Kyle Bartley who headed home but he strayed too early and was adjudged to be offside.
Despite their opportunities, the visitors failed to capitalise and they were made to rue that just before the hour mark.
Rooney elected to make a double change as he brought on Kazim-Richards and Ravel Morrison in place of Sam Baldock and Luke Plange, and within a minute, the Rams had taken the lead.
It was a defensive mix up in the West Brom defence which allowed Kazim-Richards to pounce and score his first league goal of the season.
Neither central defender Cedric Kipre and goalkeeper Sam Johnstone failed to take charge of the situation and the ball broke for the striker who made no mistake from 25 yards as he fired into an empty goal.
The Rams’ tails were up, and so were the crowd who were vocal in the second half as the Rams looked to hold on to their slender advantage.
West Brom piled on the pressure and introduced Jordan Hugill to add an extra aerial threat to their attack, but the Rams were coping well.
Kyle Bartley saw a header saved by Allsop, whilst Clarke headed over from close range as the visitors continued to probe. And they almost found the leveller on 82 minutes as Tom Fellows’ strong run saw him pick out Hugill but he shot narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
Rooney introduced Academy graduate Eiran Cashin in the final moments as Derby dug deep to hold on to all three points.
Derby survived some heavy pressure and in the final minute of additional time, Allsop denied Bartley’s close range header to secure a big three points at Pride Park.
Derby County: Allsop, Byrne, Forsyth, Bird, Baldock (Morrison 57’), Stearman, Davies (C), Ebosele (Cashin 87’), Knight, Thompson, Plange (Kazim-Richards 57’).
Substitutes: Marshall, Sibley, Watson, Williams.
West Bromwich Albion: Johnstone, Reach (Fellows 62’), Townsend, Bartley, Robinson, Livermore (C), Diangana (Hugill 62’), Clarke, Furlong (Gardner-Hickman 76’), Molumby, Kipre.
Substitutes: Button, Ajayi, Ashworth, Tulloch.
Attendance: 24,846 (3,136 visiting supporters)