Five of the best in a year when Derby County showed true home pride
DERBY COUNTY 2 BLACKPOOL 1
SEVEN matches without a win had seen Derby tumble to 16th in the Championship.
They needed a lift – and quickly. One arrived in the shape of a rip-roaring second-half display against Blackpool.
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Derby made the worst possible start when Tom Ince gave Blackpool a second-minute lead before striker Steven Davies stepped forward to turn the game in the Rams' favour.
Davies had been sidelined for months with a horrific head injury and he marked his return to action a few days earlier when he scored in a draw at Birmingham.
Against Blackpool, the striker equalised six minutes after the break when his low free kick took a deflection off the defensive wall and found the corner of the net with Matt Gilks wrong-footed.
Theo Robinson and Craig Bryson went close before Davies grabbed the winner after 75 minutes.
Neal Eardley's foul on Nathan Tyson brought a free kick on Derby's left. Ben Davies whipped the ball in and Steven Davies planted his header wide of Gilks.
DERBY COUNTY: Fielding; Green, Barker, Shackell, Roberts; Bryson, Hendrick, Carroll (Tyson, 69), B Davies; Robinson, S Davies (Buxton, 89). Other subs: Legzdins (gk), Doyle, Ball.
BLACKPOOL: Gilks; Eardley, Baptiste, Wilson, Crainey; Ince, Ferguson, Southern, Ormerod (M Phillips, 55); Bednar (Taylor-Fletcher, 59), K Phillips (LuaLua, 88). Other subs: Cathcart, Sylvestre.
REFEREE: C Boyeson (E Yorkshire).
ATTENDANCE: 26,320 (750 away fans).
DERBY COUNTY 1 NOTTHAM FOREST 0
JAKE Buxton came off the bench to head a dramatic late winner as Derby beat Nottingham Forest to record a first league double over their neighbours in 40 years.
Buxton struck four minutes into added time when he met one of many, many crosses delivered by Derby's king of assists, Ben Davies.
But victory was bitter sweet because skipper Shaun Barker suffered a dreadful knee injury.
A hush fell on an otherwise rowdy Pride Park as Barker stayed down following a hefty collision with goalkeeper Frank Fielding and Forest striker Marcus Tudgay.
Fielding and Tudgay, clearly concerned, immediately signalled for the physio and a stretcher as Barker lay motionless on the turf.
There was a lengthy hold-up as he received treatment before he was carried off with his right leg immobilised.
Set-pieces looked the most likely source of a goal as the Rams pressed for a late winner.
Buxton, on for Barker, sparked wild celebrations when he reached Davies' free kick to send a header wide of Lee Camp.
DERBY COUNTY: Fielding; Green, Barker (Buxton, 76), Shackell, Roberts; Tyson, Hendrick, Bryson, B Davies; Robinson, S Davies (Ball, 90+6). Other subs: Legzdins (gk), Carroll, Bailey.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST: Camp; Gunter, Chambers, Lynch, Cunningham; McCleary, Moussi, Guedioura (Greening, 58), Reid (Wootton, 90+1); Blackstock (Miller, 77), Tudgay. Other subs: Smith (gk), McGugan.
REFEREE: A D'Urso (Essex).
ATTENDANCE: 33,010 (4,215 away fans).
DERBY COUNTY5 WATFORD1
FIVE different scorers in a five-star display.
Derby thumped Watford to record their first victory of the season and their biggest win in two years.
It was the kind of performance that had candidates queuing for the man-of-the-match award.
Craig Bryson won it and few could argue because the Scottish midfield dynamo covered so much ground, and to good effect.
On this occasion, Watford looked as poor a side seen at Pride Park for some time but that was of no concern to Derby and they set about swatting the Hornets.
Richard Keogh and Jeff Hendrick scored before £1.2m striker Conor Sammon grabbed his first goal for the club on his home debut to make it three on the stroke of half-time.
Seventeen-year-old midfielder Will Hughes' cleverness in possession and his vision had fans purring, and the youngster notched his first senior goal.
Jamie Ward completed the scoring before Matej Vydra's consolation for Watford.
DERBY COUNTY: Fielding; Brayford, Keogh, O'Connor, Roberts (Buxton, 66); Coutts, Hendrick, Bryson (Doyle, 89), Hughes (Jacobs, 83); Sammon, Ward. Other subs: Legzdins (gk), Tyson, Robinson, Gjokaj,
WATFORD: Almunia; Doyley, Dickinson, Nosworthy. Pudil (Cassetti, 65); Hogg; Abdi, Yeates (Battocchio, 85); Vydra, Iwelumo, Murray (Anya, 65). Other subs: Bond (gk), Forsyth, Beleck, Hoban.
REFEREE: P Tierney (Lancashire).
ATTENDANCE: 20,608 (832 away fans).
DERBY COUNTY 4 BLACKPOOL 1
DETERMINED Derby took a firm grip early on that they rarely looked like relinquishing.
Stung by defeat seven days earlier, the players were clearly in the mood to make amends for what had been a sloppy, mistake-ridden display at Peterborough.
They burst from the blocks in a manner that sends a chilling signal to opponents.
Theo Robinson and John Brayford struck in the first half and although Tom Ince converted a penalty four minutes after half-time, Derby rallied again and the game as a contest was over with almost half an hour still to play.
Robinson grabbed his second goal and Conor Sammon gleefully found the net from a yard to complete a convincing 4-1 victory.
Blackpool went into the game without a manager after Ian Holloway had left to take charge at Crystal Palace.
Whichever team in the Championship had stood in Derby's way, and whether they had a manager or not, they would have had their hands full.
Kieron Freeman came on for his debut. He was one of six players aged 20 or under in the Rams' 18.
DERBY COUNTY: Legzdins; Brayford, Keogh, O'Connor, Roberts; Coutts, Hendrick (Freeman, 82), Bryson, Hughes (Jacobs, 85); Sammon, Robinson (Tyson, 67). Other subs: Deeney (gk), O'Brien, Gjokaj, Davies.
BLACKPOOL: Gilks; Broadfoot, Evatt, Baptiste, Crainey: Sylvestre, Martinez (Dicko, 65), Grandin (Basham, 74), M Phillips, Taylor-Fletcher, Ince. Other subs: Halstead (gk), Eardley, Cathcart, Gomes, Delfouneso.
REFEREE: M Russell (Hertfordshire).
DERBY COUNTY3 LEEDS UNITED 1
NIGEL Clough's young Derby team – average age 24 – stretched their current dominance of Leeds United when they made it eight wins in a row against the Yorkshire club.
The energy, determination and attacking intent was all there, as was the snap Clough demanded of his players following a heavy defeat at Leicester seven days earlier.
It all proved too much for a Leeds team lifted by three successive wins and probably as confident as at any time this season.
Will Hughes was excellent in Derby's midfield, along with Jeff Hendrick. The pair outplayed Leeds' experienced midfielders Michael Tonge and David Norris.
Hughes set up the first goal for Conor Sammon and almost scored a brilliant one himself when he showed quick feet, great skill and lovely balance to weave his way into the area before his rasping shot was beaten away by Paddy Kenny.
Former Rams player Paul Green had equalised for Leeds in the final minute of the first half and the visitors enjoyed a good spell at the start of the second.
But Derby responded in spirited fashion.
Strong runs from John Brayford and Paul Coutts pushed Leeds back and the Rams regained the lead after 66 minutes when Jake Buxton turned in Richard Keogh's shot.
The icing on the win came deep in stoppage time when substitute Ben Davies curled a left-foot shot beyond Kenny's dive.
DERBY COUNTY: Legzdins; Brayford, Keogh, Buxton (O'Brien, 79), O'Connor; Coutts, Hendrick, Hughes (Freeman, 90), Jacobs; Robinson (Davies, 82), Sammon. Other subs: Fielding (gk), Tyson, Doyle, Bennett.
LEEDS UNITED: Kenny; Byram, Lees, Tate, Peltier; Green, Tonge, Norris (White, 80), Hall (Varney, 68); McCormack (Diouf, 74), Becchio. Other subs: Ashdown (gk), Pearce, Brown, Gray.
REFEREE: S Mathieson (Cheshire).
ATTENDANCE: 25,034 (3,453 away fans).