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Derby County’s hopes of back-to-back victories in Sky Bet League One were halted with a 2-1 loss against Oxford United at Pride Park Stadium on Tuesday night.

A double from Mark Harris, with a goal in either half, condemned the Rams to defeat on home turf.

He struck with a powerful drive into the top corner just after the half hour mark before he went on to add a second with just over 20 minutes later with a composed low finish.

Martyn Waghorn came off the bench to pull a late goal back for Derby but the visitors held on to take all three points.

Key Moments

Head Coach Paul Warne named the same starting line-up for the third successive Sky Bet League One fixture after the 3-0 away win at Burton Albion at the weekend. The bench was also unchanged from the short trip across the A38 for the Rams’ first-ever competitive win at the Pirelli Stadium.

Derby started strongly attacking towards the North Stand in the first half and forced a corner inside the opening 15 seconds after a driving run by Max Bird picked out Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s run into the box from the left wing.

After the fast start the game settled down somewhat and it wasn’t until the 17th minute that the first shot of any note was registered on goal. It was the visitors who had the chance, Rams goalkeeper but Joe Wildsmith showed great reactions and made a fine save from Marcus Browne’s low strike.

Derby were forced into a change after 25 minutes with Joe Ward sustaining a knock to his ankle which saw him replaced by fellow summer signing Kane Wilson at right wing-back. Ward did try to continue after sustaining the problem but Warne opted to take no risks and made the change.

Oxford made the Rams pay for losing possession in their own half just after the half hour mark as they edged in front. Cameron Brannigan worked the ball to Harris inside the box and he made no mistake with a thunderbolt of a strike into the top left-hand corner of Wildsmith’s goal.

Derby almost levelled within a few minutes when, followed a corner, Mendez-Laing’s cross from the right picked out Eiran Cashin in the box and his looping header was pushed over the crossbar by James Beadle in the visiting goal.

Centre-back Sonny Bradley had a header deflected wide from Conor Hourihane’s right-wing corner late in the half as Derby pushed for a leveller before the interval before, despite their best efforts, it wasn’t forthcoming.

A James Collins header drifted wide from Wilson’s deep cross into the box five minutes into the second period as the Rams pressed forward as they attacked towards the packed South Stand, while Billy Bodin dragged a shot off target a few moments later down the other end after Craig Forsyth surrendered possession.

The pressure continued as the clock ticked towards the hour mark but despite throwing several balls into the box from out wide the Rams were unable to find a way through the stubborn and organised Oxford defence.

Derby made a double change on the hour mark with Liam Thompson and Conor Washington introduced into the action in place of Collins and Bradley to provide fresh legs and energy for the final half hour.

Bodin almost added a second for Oxford shortly after Derby’s double change but he was denied by a fine save by Wildsmith after being set up by Browne inside the box. The Derby shot-stopper pushed himself to his right to get a strong hand on the ball and divert it away for a corner.

Another double switch was made by Warne with just over 20 minutes remaining as Waghorn and Callum Elder came off the bench in place of Mendez-Laing and Korey Smith as the Rams craved a leveller.

But it was Oxford who bagged the second goal of the game with Harris again the man on target. This time Bodin laid the ball back into his path on the edge of the box and the summer signing from Cardiff kept his cool with a low finish beyond Wildsmith to send the travelling U’s fans into raptures.

It left the Rams with an uphill task for the final stages of the contest but they continued to display plenty of effort and eventually found the net with three minutes of normal time left when Waghorn’s excellent first-time finish nestled into the bottom corner.

Plenty of added time was signalled and despite a late onslaught, with Washington going close with a flicked effort following a corner which was headed into his path by Nelson, the Rams weren’t able to find an equaliser.

The Teams

Derby County: Wildsmith (GK), Forsyth, Hourihane (C), Bradley (Washington 59), Cashin, Bird, Collins (Thompson 59), Mendez-Laing (Waghorn 69), Smith (Elder 69), Ward (Wilson 26), Nelson.

Substitutes: Vickers (GK), Rooney.

Oxford United: Beadle (GK), Long, Brown, Moore (C), Brannigan, Harris (O'Donkor 87), Bodin (Stevens 75), Browne (McEachran 87), McGuane, Goodhram (Rodrigues 57), Negru.

Substitutes Not Used: Eastwood (GK), Mills, Smyth.


25,292 (1,042 away supporters)

What’s Next?

Derby are back at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday when they host Scott Brown’s Fleetwood Town (3pm kick-off).

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