Derby add to City drop fears

Jeff Hendrick, Jamie Ward and Ben Davies all scored as Derby
eased to a 3-0 victory over Bristol City at Pride Park to increase
the visitors’ relegation fears.

The margin of defeat would have been greater had it not been for
Tom Heaton, the woodwork, and a contender for miss of the season
from Derby striker Conor Sammon.

Defeat at Pride Park was a seventh in a winless run of nine on
the road, and a 14th away league loss of the season for City.

Derby had the chance to make the perfect start when Hendrick’s
surging run from midfield was unfairly halted by Greg
Cunningham.

Ward stepped up to take the resulting penalty but his effort was
easily saved by Heaton who, diving to his left, gathered the
Northern Ireland international’s side-footed shot in his
midriff.

Nigel Clough’s side continued to create chances, with the Robins
managing to muster just two noteworthy first-half efforts from Cole
Skuse and Sam Baldock – both of which failed to work goalkeeper
Frank Fielding.

They came either side of a 20th-minute Paul Coutts shot from
inside the area that struck a post.

Derby deservedly went ahead after 36 minutes. Ward’s corner was
volleyed away at the near post by the third former Ram in the
Robins squad – Steven Davies.

But Hendrick, stationary just outside the box, volleyed the ball
straight back and his steered side-footer eluded everyone inside a
crowded penalty area and bounced past Heaton into the bottom left
corner of the net.

The Rams doubled their lead nine minutes into the second half,
with Ward making amends for his penalty miss.

Sammon got free down the right and switched the play across the
Bristol box to Ward, who got the ball under control with his right
foot before blasting a left-footed shot beneath Heaton from inside
the area.

Sammon should have made it 3-0 in the 78th minute from Chris
Martin’s low cross but somehow managed to scoop the ball over the
crossbar from four yards out when totally unmarked.

Fielding reacted brilliantly shortly afterwards to palm away
Steven Davies’ flick from close range.

Ben Davies capped successive league wins for Derby for the first
time since mid-December, when the Rams beat City 2-0 in the reverse
fixture at Ashton Gate, with a low shot across Heaton from a tight
angle down the left side of the box.