Derby County fought to the bitter end but were unable to find a way back in against Millwall in a 1-0 defeat at Pride Park Stadium.
Tom Bradshaw had the only goal of the game coming in the first half, and despite piling on the pressure in the second half, Phillip Cocu’s side couldn’t find the equaliser and saw a nine-game unbeaten run at home come to an end.
Ahead of the game, a tribute was paid to former Derby County manager Jim Smith, who sadly passed away earlier this week. Some of his former player, including Millwall boss Gary Rowett, joined the players on the pitch of a minute applause and laid a wreath in honour of the Bald Eagle.
The Rams enjoyed large spells of possession in the opening stages of the game, but their advanced towards the Millwall goal were met by a well organised and solid defence. As Derby struggled to break through the backline, they were almost caught out on the break twice in the first 15 minutes.
First, the ball was sent back the other way for Bradshaw to chase down, but Ben Hamer ran well out of his area to coolly play the ball back to his defenders. Soon after, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson played through to Jed Wallace, who took aim from just inside the area and straight into Hamer’s chest.
Millwall took the led in the 24th minute through a good solo goal by Bradshaw. The striker broke down then left and burst into the box, flicking the ball on to himself to drill in the opening goal.
Derby’s struggles continued down the other end and they were unable to produce anything in the final third, their best chance on the half came from Duane Holmes on the half hour mark. Chris Martin’s effort from the edge of the box was blocked and the ball broke to the midfielder 25 yards out and he sent his shot just over the op right corner.
The Rams came out following the break looking to immediately find the equaliser. Much better work came from Phillip Cocu’s side and neat build-up play on the edge of the box saw the ball eventually fell to Holmes but his effort was blocked.
Just two minutes later, Tom Lawrence broke down the left flank and surged into the box to find Martyn Waghorn in front of goal but his fierce strike was sent inches wide.
Derby well and truly had a foothold in the game midway through the second half, winning three consecutive corners then a free-kick to the right of the area. From that set piece, Lawrence clipped the post but George Evans was unable to beat his man to the ball and again, Millwall had the luck.
A minute later, Waghorn took aim from a distance and forced Bartosz Bialkowski into a save, the keeper wasn’t quite able to get a grip on the ball, but managed to recover just before Martin rushed in for the second chance.
The Rams continued to pepper the Millwall goal with shots, desperately trying to level up the game. With 15 minutes left to play, Curtis Davies crossed in for Waghorn but the forward directed his effort just wide. Minutes later, Bialkowski somehow managed to keep the lead for his side with a good save after Jayden Bogle’s low ball in deflected towards the bottom right corner.
Time ran out for the Rams to find the leveller and the three points went to London with Millwall.
Derby County: Hamer; Bogle, Davies (C), Forsyth (Jozefzoon, 81), Lowe; Knight (Dowell, 74), Evans; Waghorn, Holmes (Whittaker, 88), Lawrence; Martin
Unused Subs: Roos; Wisdom, Bielik, Malone
Millwall: Bialkowski; Hutchinson, Pearce (C), Cooper; Romeo, Mulumby, Williams, M. Wallace; J. Wallace, Bradshaw (O'Brien, 81), Bodvarsson (Thompson, 67 Smith, 88)
Unused Subs: Steele, Ferguson, Mahoney, Skalak