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Match Report

 

Posted Tue 27 Dec 16 at 17:00 PM

Report: Derby County 1 Blues 0

It was a frustrating afternoon for Gianfranco Zola, as his side fell to a 1-0 defeat against Derby County.

Darren Bent's second-half penalty proved to be decisive as Blues left the Pride Park Stadium empty handed.

Zola made just the one enforced change from his side's defeat to Brighton, with Jacques Maghoma coming in for the ill David Cotterill.

The opening exchanges saw the sides evenly matched with Zola's side playing some smooth football.

Chances were at a premium in the opening 30 minutes. Maikel Kieftenbeld tried to eclipse his goal at Pride Park last season when he tried an effort from a full 30-yards, only to see his shot fly over Scott Carson's crossbar.

Lukas Jutkiewicz - fresh from penning a three and a half year deal at the Club - then had a sight of goal when he was put through by Maghoma, but the striker couldn't work Carson at his near post.

Those were as close as Blues came to working Carson in the first-half.

The hosts did enjoy spells of pressure and Blues had Tomasz Kuszczak and the linesman's flag to thank.

Kuszczak with an important touch to deny Darren Bent a goalscoring opportunity after Johnny Russell's knock down, shortly after, Bent had the ball in the back of the Blues net but to Blues and Zola's relief, the striker was adjudged offside.

Despite both sides having sightings of goal and half-chances, neither side threatened or tested the opposition 'keepers.

Blues did however show glimpses of the football that new boss Gianfranco Zola is trying to instil into the team.

Shortly after the restart and it was Blues who were denied a goal by the linesman's flag.

A Stephen Gleeson dink found Greg Stewart, who pulled it back for Kieftenbeld who rifled his effort home from the edge of the area. Unfortunately for Blues, Stewart had drifted into an offside position, a marginal decision.

Kuszczak was then brought into action. An error of judgment from Ryan Shotton - on his return to his old stomping ground - presented Bent with the best chance of the match. Luckily for Blues and Shotton, Kuszczak reacted quickest to Shotton's backward-header to deny the striker and then got down low to Tom Ince's follow up.

The hosts were then awarded a penalty just after the hour. After a corner from the left, referee Graham Scott pointed to the spot after Richard Keogh was bundled to the ground by Michael Morrison. Darren Bent stepped up and slotted past Kuszczak.

Johnny Russell could have doubled his side's lead with just over ten minutes remaining. Ince, cutting in from the right onto his left foot, saw his effort ricochet into Russell's path, who fired high over the top from close range.

A frustrating afternoon for Zola's side who travel to Barnsley on Saturday.

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