Football: Burton halts Kidd's revival

Derby County 1 Burton 83 Blackburn Rovers 0 Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 27,386
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The Independent Online
BLACKBURN suffered their first defeat in eight matches since Brian Kidd's appointment as manager when a goal by Deon Burton seven minutes from the end gave Jim Smith's side their first win of 1999 and maintained their position in the safety zone of mid-table.

Kidd was disappointed with the first setback of Blackburn's revival under his stewardship, but results elsewhere mean their own plight is not seriously affected. "I'm sorry the run has ended," Kidd said, "but you take the rough with the smooth and it is how we now react that is important."

The former Manchester United No 2 was pleased, however, with the way his skipper Tim Sherwood responded after a week in which ex-Blackburn manager Roy Hodgson blamed his "negative attitude" for the Ewood Park side's troubled campaign. "I've no problems at all with Tim's attitude," Kidd said. "He has worked very hard for me."

Derby have been striving all season to recapture the form that made them so exciting a spectacle in 1997, but with Francesco Baiano returning, Dean Sturridge running into form and the scantly used Burton anxious to make an impact while he stands in for the suspended Paulo Wanchope, there were hints that their campaign may yet ignite.

Early on, Stefano Eranio combined with Lars Bohinen to launch a raid that had Blackburn at full stretch to defend their goal. Bohinen then linked skilfully with Burton before testing John Filan with a fierce volley. The goalkeeper could not hold the shot and it took a lunging interception by Stephane Henchoz to knock Baiano's follow-up out of play.

Nathan Blake missed narrowly with an over-the-shoulder flick at the other end but then Filan had to move swiftly to save a deflected strike by Sturridge and the same player was foiled by Callum Davidson's last-ditch tackle.

However, for all the cleverness of their build-ups, Derby's finishing - the bane of their season - tended to let them down and there was always the chance that Blackburn would deal them a sucker punch.

Indeed, it almost came shortly before half time when Ashley Ward, whose transfer value has more than trebled since Jim Smith sold him to Barnsley for pounds 1.3m 16 months ago, forced Mart Poom to palm a header over the crossbar.

Derby lost their way at the start of the second half, when their attacks became more laboured and too often possession was wasted in midfield, where McKinlay and Sherwood began to call more of the shots. Blake managed to pull off an unlikely feat by getting on the end of a Ward cross but his header missed the target.

But Smith's introduction of Kevin Harper in place of an injured Bohinen gave Derby's forays an extra element of zip and seven minutes from time they finally made the pressure pay.

Tony Dorigo's looping cross from the left found Sturridge, who headed back across goal from the far post for Burton to apply the final touch and give Kidd his first taste of defeat.