Derby County’s six-game unbeaten run came to an end on the final day of the regular Sky Bet Championship season as Ipswich Town ran out 1-0 winners at the iPro Stadium.
David McGoldrick scored the decisive goal from the penalty spot 10 minutes before the half time interval on a frustrating afternoon at the office for Darren Wassall’s side.
Kept arm’s length by a hard working Ipswich side, the Rams could not find a way past as they failed to find the back of the net for the first time since early March.
More important and disappointing than the result itself, though, was the sight of seeing George Thorne depart prematurely on a stretcher after a collision in the visitors’ penalty area late on in the game.
On a gorgeous day in Derbyshire, it took just 50 seconds for Derby to force Bartosz Bialkowski into his first save, Bryson ending a free-flowing move with a cross-shot that was palmed away by the Polish goalkeeper.
Five minutes later, Tom Ince tried his luck as he whacked his weaker right foot at a cross-field pass from Chris Martin, but this time his effort flew high and wide of Bialkowski’s upright.
It didn’t take Ipswich much longer to register their own attempt on goal in an entertaining meeting at the iPro Stadium – Freddie Sears, left of centre, forced Scott Carson into an easy save at his near post.
After a fiery start had cooled down for five minutes, normal service resumed as Thorne glanced a header wide from a corner, whilst at the other end, McGoldrick fired a deflected volley wide of Carson’s far post.
Midway through the first half the pendulum continued to swing one way then the other.
At one end, Will Hughes bent an effort around the far post after skipping past one challenge, before the Rams scrambled ball away from their own goalline after Carson failed to cleanly deal with Liam Feeney’s low cross from the right.
The contest was lacking a goal, and shortly after the half hour mark, the deadlock was broken.
Teddy Bishop picked up possession just outside the box and darted towards Carson’s goal, only to be upended by a sliding challenge from Richard Keogh. Following a slight pause, Tim Robinson, the match referee, pointed to the penalty spot and McGoldrick was on hand to duly plant the ball into the back of the goal.
Derby searched for an immediate response. Ince saw a free kick palmed away by Bialkowski and later Russell hit an ambitious half volley well over, from which the first 45 minutes petered out in the stubborn visitors’ favour.
Ipswich’s defence and midfield were certainly earning their corn for their off the ball work rate, whilst Bialkowski was in no mood to surrender his clean sheet.
The 28-year-old superbly denied Bryson again, turning away the Scottish midfielder’s snapshot from the edge of the area after Derby had rarely carved open the blue wall in front of them.
Soon after it looked for all the world that he was beaten, locked into the centre of the goal and could only watch Martin’s header from a central position, but on this occasion it dropped just wide of the far post.
From there, Ipswich grew in stature, always holding the Rams at arm’s length whilst possessing a threat on the counter attack.
From one such move, with the Tractor Boys attacking the Derby backline four men to three, McGoldrick shot straight at Carson rather than opting to find a team mate.
Wassall, the Derby Head Coach, introduced Darren Bent and Nick Blackman in a bid to reignite Derby’s flatness in the final third with the former delivering a teasing ball in from the right that was inches away from being turned in by the outstretched Bryson.
Ince fired another effort over as the clock ticked towards the 80 minute mark, but whilst there was no further chances, there was to be a bigger disappointment than the result as Thorne, the 23-year-old midfielder, was taken off on a stretcher after a collision in the Ipswich penalty area.
Derby County: Carson, Christie, Keogh (Buxton, 46), Shackell, Olsson; Thorne, Bryson, Hughes (Blackman, 77); Ince, Russell, Martin (Bent, 68)
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Hendrick, Butterfield, Weimann
Ipswich Town: Bialkowski, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Kenlock, Skuse (Hyam, 46), McDonnell (Douglas, 55), Bishop (Pitman, 69), Feeney, Sears, McGoldrick
Substitutes not used: Gerken, Digby, Varney, Foley
Attendance: 29,854 (1,036 Ipswich supporters)Tweets by @ dcfcofficial