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A stunning second half comeback secured Derby County all three points at Pride Park Stadium as they defeated league leaders Fulham 2-1 to keep their hopes of staying in the Sky Bet Championship alive.

Fulham led at the break as Fabio Carvalho’s goal midway through the half gave them the advantage, but a spirited second half performance from the Rams turned the game on its head.

Striker Luke Plange equalised five minutes into the half as he met a cross from Lee Buchanan to score his fourth goal of the campaign, whilst he also had a hand in what turned out to be the winner for the Rams.

A cross from Tom Lawrence was attacked by Plange but the ball ricocheted off Fulham defender Toisin Adarabioyo and went into the back of the net to spark jubilant scenes in the home crowd.

And, the Rams valiantly held on to all three points, despite suffering some nervy moments in the final moments of the game. The three points keeps alive Derby’s slim chances of staying in the Sky Bet Championship as they sit nine points behind Reading with four games remaining.

Manager Wayne Rooney was without Ravel Morrison as he missed out through illness, whilst Jason Knight returned to the starting line-up.

And it was the Irishman who had the first opportunity of the game as he met a cross from Malcolm Ebiowei but his header went straight into the palms of Marek Rodak in the Fulham goal.

Harry Wilson, on his first return to Pride Park since his loan move in 2018/19, flashed an effort wide moments later, whilst Joe Bryan also saw his shot go wide of the post.

Ebiowei, who has showed no fear in his opening dozen games for the club, once again showed his promising capabilities moments later as he took on his man on and found Tom Lawrence in the centre. The Welshman took one touch and shot from distance but his effort was saved by Rodak.

But, the league leaders were ahead on 20 minutes through Carvalho. The winger played a neat one-two with Aleksandar Mitrovic and found the bottom corner to put the visitors a goal up.

It was nearly two soon after as Carvalho shot on the volley from the edge of the area, it deflected up for Wilson but he headed over.

Despite the difference in league positions, the Rams held their own and caused Fulham problems in the final third. Eiran Cashin maybe could have done better with a header, whilst Ebiowei was getting some joy down the right-hand side but a clear cut chance eluded the Rams.

Derby headed into the half time break knowing they weren’t out of the game. But, they needed a spark. Thankfully, they got that at the start of the second half as they grabbed the equaliser.

It all started with midfielder Liam Thompson who expertly turned away from his marker and advanced 50 yards with the ball. He threaded a lovely through ball to the advancing Lee Buchanan whose first time cross found the onrushing Plange and he made no mistake from close range to draw the Rams level.

But, the visitors were almost back ahead only a minute later as a dangerous cross from Bryan was aimed towards Mitrovic in the centre and he was a toe-nail away from making contact with the ball but he could not connect.

But, the Serbian started to cause the Rams problems as goalkeeper Ryan Allsop twice had to deny the striker from close range headers. The first was a tame, whilst the second was a strong stop from a Fulham set-piece.

The visitors kept coming and thought they had regained their lead on 65 minutes as Carvalho’s shot rebounded off the post and was tapped in from close range by Mitrovic but the linesman’s flag was up for offside.

Derby kept coming, and Rooney turned to his bench as he introduced Festy Ebosele into the action in place of Thompson. And a minute later, the Rams had turned the game on its head as they took the lead.

It was good football from Derby in the build up to the goal. Krystian Bielik played the ball over the top to Nathan Byrne who acrobatically flicked the ball into the path of Lawrence.

The Welshman fired the ball across the centre of the goal, Plange attacked but it was converted into his own goal by Adarabioyo.

It sparked jubilant scenes in the home stands as the Rams eyed victory over the league leaders. But, they did have to do some defending to keep the league leaders at bay.

And, on the counter attack, they almost made it three as Ebiowei kept his composure under pressure as he took it around one man, but his effort was saved well by Rodak.

With six minutes added on, the crowd kicked every ball, and every save was cheered as loud as a goal. Cottagers midfielder Harrison Reed had Fulham’s best chance, and after some last ditch defending, Allsop tipped his effort over the crossbar.

Rooney afforded a debut to youngster Carlos Richards in the final moments of the game, but Derby held on to a valuable three points as kept their faint hopes of staying in the division alive with victory over the league leaders.

Derby County: Allsop, Byrne, Bielik (Sibley 84’), Lawrence (C), Buchanan, Ebiowei (Richards 90’), Davies, Knight, Cashin, Thompson (Ebosele 72’), Plange.

Substitutes: Roos, Forsyth, Stearman, Cybulski.

Fulham: Rodak, Reed, Wilson (Kebano 72’), Mitrovic, Cairney (Seri 72’), Ream, Decordova-Reid, Adarabioyo, Williams (Muniz 80’), Bryan, Carvalho.

Substitutes: Gazzaniga, Hector, Chalobah, Robinson.

Attendance: 23,773 (1,743 visiting supporters)

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