Derby County made it back-to-back wins in the Sky Bet Championship with an early goal proving to be enough in their 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers.
Jacob Butterfield sublimely fired Darren Wassall’s side in front with a half volley, before the hosts were at their resilient best to keep a Rovers side at bay that got stronger as the game wore on.
Scott Carson brilliantly denied Ben Marshall in the second half, whilst the visitors also hit the crossbar in stoppage time as the Rams claimed their first victory at the iPro Stadium of the new year to close the gap on the second tier’s leading pack.
Wassall, the Derby Head Coach, called on his side to start on the front foot and after naming just one change to his starting XI, his players picked up where they left off on Saturday and started brightly, moving the ball with intent, purpose and pace as they sought an early goal.
Their early roaming was rewarded as early as the eighth minute as Butterfield broke the deadlock in style, striking a half volley beyond the reach of Jason Steele after the visitors failed to deal with a corner routine.
It represented the first time the Rams had scored the first goal in a game since the middle of January and they pushed to solidify their advantage, before the visitors grew into the contest.
Johnny Russell had the best chance after patient build-up down the right hand side, but his deflected effort, which had Steele scrambling, was eventually claimed by the goalkeeper.
As the first half ticked on, Blackburn began to grow into the game, but lacked a clinical touch in front of goal as they looked to get back on level terms.
After a moment of hesitancy from Carson, Marshall tried to an audacious chip from a tight angle which was easily claimed by the ‘keeper, whilst Danny Graham, the former Derby loanee, scooped the ball over the crossbar after finding himself in a one-on-one position with Jason Shackell.
Jordi Gomez then shot harmlessly wide after drifting inside from the right as Paul Lambert’s side ended the first 45 minutes strongly in terms of chances being created.
Rovers continued that trend into the early stages of the second half as Grant Hanley, the visitors’ Captain, headed over the crossbar from a precise Marshall set play.
Wassall’s side were being pinned deep inside their half as Blackburn bossed proceedings, but on a rare venture forward, Jeff Hendrick had the chance to double the home side’s lead, but he could direct Cyrus Christie’s cross from the right wide of goal.
That opportunity marked the start of a stronger period for the Rams, as only a last-gasp challenge prevented Russell from chancing his arm, before Steele produced an outstanding save to deny Chris Martin, who was the target of a sublime cutting pass from Richard Keogh.
At the other end, Carson got down to save a snap-shot from Graham at his near post, before Butterfield dragged his right foot shot wide after the Rams had hit their opponents on the break.
With just under 20 minutes remaining, Carson pulled off his best save of the evening, springing across goal to get two firm hands to a fierce Marshall free kick from 25-yards, Whilst the same man shot into the side netting after cutting inside from the right.
Just as his defenders did, Wassall could be seeing kicking and heading every ball that came in Derby’s penalty area as they resolutely held out to claim their second successive win in the Championship as they kept chase with the division’s leading pack.
Derby County: Carson, Christie, Keogh (C), Shackell, Olsson; Hanson (Bryson, 76), Hendrick, Butterfield (Blackman, 80); Russell (Ince, 65), Johnson, Martin
Substitutes not used: Grant, Buxton, Camara, Weimann
Blackburn Rovers: Steele, Marshall, Hanley (C), Duffy, Spurr, Bennett, Lenihan, Evans, Grimes (Brown, 69), J. Gomez, Graham
Substitutes not used: Raya (GK), Henley, Kilgallon, Watt, Ward, Akpan
Attendance: 27,411Tweets by @ dcfcofficial