Derby County squandered a two goal lead at Pride Park last night as QPR scored four goals for the third consecutive game. A full house at Pride Park made for a fantastic atmosphere, pre-match, but by the final whistle, Derby fans were throwing their free t-shirts at the pitch in response to a disappointing end to the game.
Queens Park Rangers was Derby County manager Nigel Clough’s first opponent when he took charge of the Rams in January and they headed into last night’s televised encounter looking to better their defeat in midweek at Middlesbrough.
Jim Magilton took his confident side on the road after back-to-back home wins which saw his side going into the late game knowing a win would see them break into the playoffs. History was on the visitors side knowing that Derby had not beaten QPR at home in 19 years, but there was a party atmosphere inside a full house at Pride Park.
It was "wear white" night, which saw every member of the crowd getting a free t-shirt supporting the national poppy appeal prior to kickoff, which also saw the national anthem being sung a first at a championship encounter.
Clough had to deal with a string of injuries to first team players which as a result saw them going into the game only three places above the championship drop zone and went into the game with a 4-4-2 starting 11 with Bryan Hughes on loan from Hull City making his debut after joining on Thursday. Rob Hulse and veteran Paul Dickov led the line.
Visitors QPR went with on Arsenal forward Jay Simpson upfront by himself with support from wingers Routledge and Buzsaky and Tottenham loan midfielder Adel Taarabt in a forward midfield role.
A tepid start saw both sides battle hard to gain any sort of momentum but a quick free kick from the Rams veteran captain Robbie Savage caught the Rangers defence sleeping and found the evergreen Paul Dickov, who finished well to the near post, leaving Radek Cerny with no chance on the ninth minute.
It was Dickov’s first goal since joining Derby from championship rivals Leicester City earlier in the month and was his 118 goal for his ninth goal in his extended career.
The first goal opened the game up and saw both sides going end to end on the excellent Pride Park surface, which saw Savage take control in a congested midfield playing in a holding midfield role. Scottish International Gary Teale hurried the QPR defense and put in a perfect cross for Rob Hulse, who was denied by a fine stop from the Rangers keeper Cerny.
Former Wales International Robbie Savage was rolling back the years in an excellent performance in the first 45 minutes, which saw him bend and excellent free kick up and over the Rangers wall to give the Rams a two goal cushion.
Rangers responded to going further behind by levelling up from an Adel Taarabt free kick.
An excellent first half saw the visitors grow in confidence after getting back into the game and the instrumental Taarabt won a corner at the end of the first half as the home side was up against the ropes and glad to hear the half time whistle.
It took only two minutes of the second half for Rangers to draw level with the home side after a fine move was finished off by the experienced Gavin Mahon after an excellent lay off from Wayne Routledge.
Derby never got going in the second half and it was not too long before the Londoners had the lead when Jay Simpson finished smartly past the hapless Bywater after Connolly’s slip let Routledge in. Derby’s injury problems did not let up in the second half when on loan defender Stoor had to come off after a knock on his eye saw it close and the Fulham defender came off.
A snapshot from the impressive Hulse was Derby’s only chance of the second half and a breakaway from man of the match Routledge resulted in Derby’s Moxey pulling the former Aston Villa winger down.
Hungarian International Buzacky fired home the resulting penalty into the left corner and ensured that QPR kept up their impressive form and look like genuine promotion contenders.