Football: Stimac fumes over his booking

Derby County 0 Blackburn Rovers 0
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Premiership referees may have adopted a more lenient approach following their mid-season meeting, but for some players they are still too keen to reach for yellow and red cards.

Derby County's captain, Igor Stimac, was booked for the tenth time this season on Saturday and was far from happy about it. The Croatian defender, who starts a two-match ban on New Year's Day (his second suspension of the season), believes he has become a target for match officials.

Stimac was booked by David Elleray after clashing with the Blackburn striker, Chris Sutton, who was also shown the yellow card. "I have had 10 bookings this season but for five or six of them I did nothing wrong," Stimac said. "I am not going to change the way I play.

"I am a defender and I have to stop strikers like Sutton and Shearer. I am also the captain and my style is to put myself about a bit. I don't care if I get another 10 bookings, I can't go for 90 minutes wondering how not to get booked."

Stimac suggested Sutton had tried to get him into trouble, which the Blackburn striker denied. "It was all part and parcel of the game and nothing more than that," Sutton said.

Both sides had chances to win an entertaining game, with Sutton and Derby's Dean Sturridge each hitting the woodwork. Derby were grateful to end a run of three consecutive defeats, though this was an edgy performance. "We have gone from looking a really good side when we played Everton to a very ordinary and nervous team," Jim Smith, the manager, said.

"It's all about confidence and the only way that you can get that back is by winning. But it was important that we didn't lose and we have to build on that."

Tony Parkes, Blackburn's caretaker manager, was more than satisfied with his team's enterprising display. "It was an excellent performance - that's the best we have played away from home over 90 minutes," he said.

Derby County: Hoult; Laursen, Rowett, Yates, Stimac, C Powell, Carsley, Asanovic, Dailly (D Powell, h-t), Sturridge, Ward (Gabbiadini, h-t). Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Trollope, Flynn.

Blackburn Rovers: Given; Kenna, Sherwood, Hendry, Le Saux, Gallacher, Sutton, Bohinen, Wilcox, McKinlay, Berg. Substitutes not used: Flowers (gk), Marker, Fenton, Gudmundsson, Donis.

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow on the Hill).

Bookings: Derby: Rowett, Stimac. Blackburn: McKinlay, Sutton.

Man of the match: Hendry.

Attendance: 17,847.

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