Neil Redfearn's side suffer 2-0 defeat at the iPro Stadium...
DERBY 2 (Mowatt og 41, Buxton 47), UNITED 0
Derby: Grant, Christie, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth, Eustace, Hendrick (Bryson 80), Hughes, Russell (Coutts 90+1), Ibe (Dawkins 90), Martin. Subs. Roos, Best, Shotton, Mascarell.
United: Silvestri, Byram, Bellusci, Cooper, Warnock (Berardi 8), Austin, Bianchi (Adryan 79), Mowatt, Cook, Antenucci, Doukara (Sharp 66). Subs. S Taylor, Del Fabro, Tonge, Montenegro.
Referee: K Stroud
Booked: Hendrick (Derby), Mowatt, Cooper, Bellusci, Austin (United)
Att: 31,690 (2,236)
United's final game of 2014 came in the shape of a televised midweek trip to Derby County's iPro Stadium as Neil Redfearn's side looked to bounce back from the Boxing Day defeat to Wigan. The head coach made two changes, bringing Rodolph Austin and Souleymane Doukara into the starting line-up in place of Michael Tonge and Billy Sharp respectively. The game also marked the 100th senior appearance of Academy product Sam Byram, who continued at right back.
There was little in the way of goalmouth action inside the opening 10 minutes, but Redfearn was dealt an early blow as captain Stephen Warnock was forced off to be replaced by Gaetano Berardi following a challenge on Derby’s Cyrus Christie.
The hosts were enjoying more of the ball and beginning to close in on Marco Silvestri’s goal, but Chris Martin just found himself outnumbered inside the area as he looked to squeeze a shot away before Christie fired over after cutting in from the right.
United’s first sight of goal came on the 18th-minute mark, Mirco Antenucci lashing a first-time strike wide of Lee Grant’s near post after being threaded through by Doukara. Tommaso Bianchi then saw a long-range effort fly wide as Redfearn’s men began to pose more of a threat inside the Derby half.
At the opposite end, Liam Cooper stood firm to block from Johnny Russell before hacking clear Jordan Ibe’s dangerous-looking cross. He then turned another inviting delivery behind, this time from Christie down the right, as Derby looked to assert some serious pressure on the United defence.
Despite clear-cut chances being scarce, it was Steve McClaren’s side who eventually broke the deadlock on 41 minutes. Will Hughes burst down the left and Alex Mowatt inadvertently turned his low cross against the bar and beyond Silvestri.
Silvestri was then called into action as Derby threatened to double their lead almost immediately. The Italian stopper was at his sharpest, though, acrobatically pushing Richard Keogh’s dipping header over the bar before gathering Ibe’s half-volley as the half-time whistle sounded.
The hosts started the second half on the front foot and defender Jake Buxton made it 2-0 within two minutes of the restart, rising inside the area to head Jeff Hendrick’s free-kick into Silvestri’s top right corner.
It was largely one-way traffic and Silvestri was alert to push away Ibe’s low effort with a fine save down to his left before clutching onto Hughes’ attempt from outside the box as the Rams went in search of a quick-fire third. Derby continued to press and an unmarked Martin headed Craig Forsyth’s cross wide shortly before firing into Silvestri’s arms.
Ibe glanced a header wide before seeing Silvestri beat away his cross, while Doukara was replaced by Sharp in attack as United looked to stem the tide. Russell bent over a free-kick moments before Adryan was introduced in place of Bianchi for Redfearn’s final change of the evening.
But the hosts kept probing and Martin forced another good stop out of Silvestri, getting down well to push away his strike, before Austin drilled over an ambitious stoppage-time free-kick as Derby saw out their lead to exact revenge for November’s defeat at Elland Road.