Wayne Rooney felt Derby County’s 1-0 loss at Luton Town on Saturday afternoon was ‘a difficult result to take’.

Derby’s performance saw him push the play-off chasing Hatters all the way at Kenilworth Road in their latest Sky Bet Championship outing, but they weren’t able to claim something for their efforts as a single second half goal handed the hosts all three points.

The first half of the contest was relatively low in terms of clear-cut chances, but both sides did venture forward into some good attacking areas over the course of the opening 45 minutes and Colin Kazim-Richards came closet for the Rams as he fired over.

Derby came close to taking the lead after 53 minutes as Max Bird’s cutely chipped effort from the edge of the box looked destined for the top corner, but Jed Steer’s fingertip save directed the ball onto the crossbar and away to safety.

Luton made the breakthrough with 67 minutes as substitute Danny Hylton made the most of time and space on the edge of the penalty area to guide a low effort beyond the reach of Rams goalkeeper Ryan Allsop.

Derby sought to find an equaliser as the clock ticked down, but Luton held on to move into the play-off places as their promotion charge gathers pace.

Speaking to RamsTV after the final whistle, Rooney said: “We controlled the game really well and we changed the shape going into this one.

“They make it difficult for you and put balls into the box and I thought the lads did excellent in controlling that.

“We conceded a sloppy goal from our point of view and couldn’t do what we needed to at the other end; it’s a difficult result to take today.”

Rooney added: “It was an okay performance but a disappointing result. We are at the point of the season where we need to turn draws into wins, but we have got another very difficult game on Tuesday at Cardiff.

“We have to dust ourselves down, forget about this, move on and keep fighting, if we do that then we will be okay.”

Derby find themselves still eight points from safety as a result of Reading’s 4-1 loss at Blackpool.

While the defeat against the Hatters can be classed as an opportunity missed for Rooney’s side to close the gap to five points, the Rams’ boss doesn’t want anyone feeling sorry for themselves and wasting needless energy.

“You can’t afford to feel sorry for ourselves,” he said. “It hurts, nobody likes losing games and it’s disappointing but you have to get over it. If you start thinking: ‘we could have done this or could have done that’ then you waste energy which at this moment in time we need to keep all our energy on the pitch.

“We are not going to stay in the division or be relegated based on today’s result; we have to keep pushing.

“The matches remaining are getting less but there is an opportunity for us still. We will keep going, keep working and come the end of the season we will be where we unfortunately deserve to be in some ways because we’ve picked up more points than the position that we’re in - but that’s where we are at.

Following the conclusion of February’s matches, Derby will begin the third month of the year with a trip to Cardiff City on Tuesday 1st March (7:45pm kick-off).