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Posted Sat 15 Dec 12 at 17:11 PM

Report: City 0-2 Derby County

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Report by Mark Perrow at Ashton Gate


City’s winless home run was extended to nine games as two goals in three minutes eased Derby County to victory to Ashton Gate.

Derek McInnes’ side had chances in the first half, but Jeff Hendrick’s opener was immediately followed by a Craig Bryson header nine minutes before the interval.

Sam Baldock might have reduced the arrears, but after the break City were starved of opportunities, and the visitors held on quite comfortably to secure a rare away win.

McInnes named the same starting line-up victorious up at Hillsborough last time out, as two late goals saw off fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday in South Yorkshire.

Meanwhile, Greg Cunningham and Jon Stead returned to the squad on the bench alongside former Derby duo Stephen Pearson and Steven Davies.

There was a spring in the step of a home crowd who have been pleading with McInnes to start with two strikers more often in recent weeks, but they were almost silenced by the visitors inside six minutes.

Craig Bryson’s short corner was returned to him by Conor Sammon, before Bryson’s low ball was cleverly backheeled towards the bottom corner by midfielder Michael Jacobs, but Tom Heaton was able to get just enough of a touch to divert it wide.

Derby, full of exciting young talents, were playing some nice football, but have struggled on the road this season and were nearly exposed by the ever-willing Sam Baldock.

Racing on to a ball down the side of the defence, the striker cut inside and struck his shot low and hard on target, but too close to Rams keeper Adam Legzdins, who saved uncomfortably with his legs.

Albert Adomah was next to threaten for City, as Ryan Taylor laid the ball back intelligently for the onrushing winger to seek out the top corner with a curling effort which ultimately sailed harmlessly high and wide.

At the other end, another bright Derby breakaway culminated in a neat lay-off from Bryson to Paul Coutts, who resisted the urge to shoot before playing the ball back to his fellow Scot who failed to connect sweetly with the eventual attempt on goal.

But before long, City were 2-0 down thanks to two quick-fire goals in the visitors’ favour.

First, Jacobs teasing cross was touched in by Hendrick who nipped in front of Heaton to score, before a short free kick was worked wide to left-back Gareth Roberts, whose centre was headed home by Bryson at the near post.

To their credit, City responded with real intent. Baldock had two chances in two minutes to halve the deficit, blazing a difficult bouncing ball high into the East End before, having been sent clear by Adomah, he saw his left-footed shot repelled by Legzdins from a position demanding better.

But in their haste to respond, the Robins were almost caught out by an eye-catching curling shot from right-back John Brayford who was only just off target with Heaton scrambling.

Meanwhile, Cunningham’s return would come sooner than expected when he replaced Matthew Bates just before the interval, before Davies was introduced for Taylor for the start of the second half.

But City could not get going, with the Rams happy to sit deep with the occasional counter-attack, namely when Coutts dispossessed Cunningham and set up Jacobs, whose first-time shot deflected wide.

McInnes’ side finally threatened Derby’s lead in the final 20 minutes, as Davies sent a curling effort towards the far corner which had to be palmed aside by Legzdins, before the former Burton Albion keeper produced an even better stop to deny Liam Fontaine’s point-blank header from Adomah’s deep cross.

Third and final substitute Jon Stead added some energy to a team performance which never quite got going in the second half, although Adomah did force a late corner with a stinging volley beaten away by Legzdins.

With five added minutes, a late onslaught might have been on the cards when Baldock slid in to turn a shot goalwards, but it was not to be his or City’s day.

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