Half-time: Ben Davies puts Derby County 1-0 up at Birmingham City
BEN Davies' third goal of the season has put Derby County 1-0 up at half-time in their Championship clash at Birmingham City.
Davies struck a 40th-minute opener to give the Rams a deserved lead at the interval.
Derby boss Nigel Clough named an unchanged starting line-up following the midweek draw away to leaders Cardiff City.
However, defensive duo Kieron Freeman (ankle) and Mark O'Brien (knee) were named on the bench after injury.
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The Rams were still without John Brayford (hamstring), Craig Bryson (groin), Jamie Ward (hamstring), Will Hughes (groin) and James O'Connor (knee).
Derby keeper Adam Legzdins, back at his former club, denied Peter Lovenkrands from close range in the fifth minute but the flag was up for offside.
Chris Martin tried to release Conor Sammon after 13 minutes but England international stopper Jack Butland was out quickly to save at the striker's feet.
Birmingham's giant front man Nikola Zigic was winning plenty in the air but he planted a header wide from a Paul Caddis cross three minutes later.
Gareth Roberts robbed Chris Burke in an advanced position and squared for Davies but his low drive from 20 yards was off target.
Davies found his range with a 25-yard free kick but it was straight at Butland.
Martin thought he had his first goal for the Rams after 36 minutes but his 25-yard piledriver was brilliantly tipped over by the flying Butland.
The Rams were on top and they took the lead five minutes before the break.
Forsyth's cross into the box was cleared but the on-loan midfielder headed it back into the area and Davies arrived at full stretch to hook a volley past Butland, who got a touch but could not keep it out.
With Birmingham rattled, Derby might have added a second before half-time but Sammon and Martin were both denied by last-ditch blocks.
In added time, the hosts went close but Legzdins blocked Zigic's far post header following Shane Ferguson's free kick.