Boxing Day blues as Derby County fail to do enough to be worthy of reward at Burnley
DERBY County must be sick of the sight of Burnley and especially their striker Charlie Austin.
They have now failed to beat the Clarets in eight attempts following yesterday's 2-0 defeat at Turf Moor.
Burnley also won at Pride Park in September and Austin has scored five goals in his last four matches against the Rams.
His latest could easily go down as an own goal against John Brayford but Austin claimed it and Burnley held the advantage at half-time before they doubled their lead 16 minutes from the end, when defender Michael Duff headed in.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
It was a soft goal to concede from a set-piece – shades of Hull City's winner last Friday night – and Duff's header was actually turned in by Rams substitute Theo Robinson.
Paul Coutts struck a post between Burnley's two goals, a key moment given that the home side had drawn four of a winless five-match run going into the contest.
Derby improved from a tepid show in the first half and they were enjoying their best spell of the game when Burnley scored a second.
Boxing Days have not been kind to Derby down the years.
They went into the fixture having won only twice in their previous 14 matches staged the day after Christmas Day.
Some of the eight reversals still send a shiver down the spine – defeats at home by Grimsby Town, Doncaster Rovers, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Blackpool – not to mention a four-goal drubbing at West Ham United.
The one change to the team beaten by Hull saw Mark O'Brien come in for James O'Connor at centre-back and the Rams stuck with the 4-5-1 shape that brought them three points at Bristol City in their previous away game.
Burnley's side included former Rams players Jason Shackell, their captain, and Lee Grant, who was in goal for Derby the last time they won at Turf Moor in October 2004.
Rain fell from a leaden sky at kick-off, although Martin Paterson almost brightened matters inside five minutes. His movement from the right to a central attacking position was spotted by Danny Ings. Paterson took a touch but his low shot struck Adam Legzdins and the ball looped over.
Derby were second to the ball during much of the opening 20 minutes and their best moment in that time was sparked by Will Hughes' clever first-time pass from tight on the touchline.
Craig Bryson received the pass and carried the ball towards Burnley's area before he was tripped by Ross Wallace, who was shown a yellow card. Michael Jacobs swung in the free kick, only for Shackell to make a timely headed clearance.
Half an hour in and there had been no chances and nothing to worry either goalkeeper since Paterson's early opportunity.
Too many misplaced passes and stoppages in play strangled the game, although as the away side, Derby would not have been too disappointed.
A quick free kick by Hughes set Conor Sammon running but the striker did not endear himself to the home fans when he went down far too easily as Duff went to make a challenge.
Duff, on the 450th League appearance of his career, had words with Sammon. The 'discussion' threatened to boil over. It did not and the outcome was that boos greeted Sammon's every touch of the ball.
A slick move by Burnley involving Dean Marney, Paterson and Daniel Lafferty drew applause from home supporters and proved the build-up to the opening goal after 39 minutes.
Burnley won a corner, which was cleared to Kieran Trippier on the right. His attempted centre was deflected to Austin, whose curling low shot appeared to hit Brayford and the ball skidded into the corner of the net.
Austin, of whom little had been seen to that point, celebrated his 23rd goal of the campaign (20th in the League) but his shot was going wide.
As a striker, you know when you are on a hot streak when even your wayward shots even go in!
For the teams to be split by such a messy, fortunate goal was in keeping with what had been an instantly forgettable half.
Derby's midfield three never really got going and Sammon was isolated.
O'Brien's header sailed high over just before the break and the Rams did not register an effort on target in the opening 45 minutes.
They needed better quality from the wide areas and more accurate service in to Sammon, as well as support for the front man because building attacks had been a problem.
Jacobs was moved to a role just off Sammon and Bryson went to the left side of midfield but Burnley had two sights of goal at the start of the second half.
Wallace latched on to a long ball forward from Austin and sliced his shot high and wide. Moments later, Brayford's block denied Austin in the box and when Ings left Keogh in his wake, O'Brien produced a magnificent last-ditch tackle.
Derby responded, mainly through Jeff Hendrick's determination, and they were denied an equaliser by the woodwork just before the hour.
Hughes drove forward and found Jacobs, whose low shot was pushed away by Grant and the ball fell to Coutts, who hammered his shot against the foot of the near post with Grant beaten.
The Rams enjoyed a good spell of possession and there was hope of a leveller. Nathan Tyson was sent on in place of Bryson and Jacobs went back to the left before Robinson replaced Sammon.
It had not been a good afternoon for Sammon, though that was not all is own fault, and Derby's afternoon got worse after 74 minutes.
Wallace delivered a corner and Duff lost his man too easily to head down and in from eight yards. Robinson got the final touch as he tried to clear.
Like the one against Hull, it was a poor goal to concede from a corner and the Rams were almost undone again when Legzdins missed his punch and substitute Keith Treacy saw his effort blocked.
Derby have scored only 10 goals in 12 fixtures on the road this season and Robinson turned a late chance wide from Coutts' low driven centre.
Other than Coutts' effort striking a post, they rarely looked like scoring on this occasion.
Luck was not on their side, admittedly, but nor did they do enough to take something from a disappointing afternoon.
This is only the second time they have suffered back-to-back defeats this season.
The task now is to make sure the sequence does not stretch to three matches when they visit Charlton Athletic on Saturday.