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.