Derby County have been relegation to Sky Bet League One following a 1-0 defeat against Queens Park Rangers.
The Rams have dropped into the third tier of English football for the first time since 1986 as Luke Amos’ late strike ensured victory for the home side.
Off-the-field matters have been Derby’s undoing this season as they were deducted 21-points for entering administration and for a historical breach of profitability and sustainability rules.
But, they have fought bravely and battled hard to avoid the drop, however, following today’s defeat against Mark Warburton’s side, Derby’s fate has been sealed as they drop into League One.
Manager Wayne Rooney elected to name the same starting 11 from the side which beat league leaders Fulham on Good Friday 2-1 but the Rams would start the game on the back foot as the hosts dominated.
They thought they had taken the lead on 10 minutes as a long ball forward from goalkeeper Kieren Westwood was met by the head of Lyndon Dykes. He headed into the path of Luke Amos who rounded Ryan Allsop in the Derby goal and scored into the empty net, but the linesman’s flag halted his celebrations as it remained goalless.
But, the home side kept coming. Eiran Cashin was forced to head away from goal as Ilias Chair found space for a shot on the edge of the area as the home side pressured Derby well.
The Rams’ first opportunity of the game came midway through the half, and Luke Plange may well feel he should have given his side the lead.
A free kick near the corner flag from skipper Tom Lawrence found the striker at the back post, who had done well to create a yard of space, but he headed against the crossbar and the ball went over the top.
Krystian Bielik almost profited from a corner which he fired over after Westwood spilled the ball, but Queens Park Rangers came once again as they forced Derby into last ditch defending.
George Thomas found Dykes in the centre, he had time to pick his spot but full back Nathan Byrne threw his body on the line and denied the forward from close range.
And Byrne went the close to opening the deadlock himself in first half stoppage time as he met a bouncing ball on the edge of the box but his effort flew wide as both sides went into the break goalless.
The home side started the second half brightly as two efforts from Chair almost yielded the opening goal of the game.
His first effort was a rasping effort from 25 yards which forced Allsop into a strong one-handed save, whilst he saw his second effort fly wide from the edge of the area.
But, the more the half went on, the more Derby grew into it. The introduction of Ravel Morrison in place of Bielik, added an extra dimension to Derby’s attack as they started to create chances.
But, they did have to be wary at the back as Dykes was allowed space on the edge of the box but his shot was well saved by Allsop.
Going forwards, Ebiowei was at the forefront of the action. Both he and Plange saw shots blocked with 20 minutes to play as the game started to open up.
And with space to run into, Byrne drove at the defence soon after but he didn’t quite get enough power in his shot to cause Westwood a problem.
Morrison influenced proceedings as Derby continued to attack, whilst Rooney introduced forward players Louie Sibley and Bartosz Cybulski in a bid to earn all three points.
However, with only two minutes of the game remaining, and against the run of play, Queens Park Rangers found the winning goal.
With the Rams throwing men forward, they were left exposed at the back and Amos capitalised on that. He found space at the back post and stroked past Allsop to give the home side the lead late on.
Derby continued to fight, with eight minutes of stoppage time announced. Cybulski went close late in the game, whilst in the final minutes, Lawrence picked up a second yellow card as Derby would finish the game with 10 men.
But, the defeat means Derby have been relegated to Sky Bet League One for the first time in 36 years.
Queens Park Rangers: Westwood, Amos, Dykes, Chair, Thomas (Austin 71’), Field, McCallum, Dozzell (Johansen 75’), Dunne (C), Odubajo (Kakay 57’), Sanderson.
Substitutes: Mahoney, Ball, Gray, Adomah.
Derby County: Allsop, Byrne, Bielik (Morrison 63’), Lawrence (C), Buchanan (Cybulski 85’), Ebiowei, Davies, Knight (Sibley 75’), Cashin, Thompson, Plange.
Substitutes: Roos, Forsyth, Stearman.