It was business as usual in certain respects at Pride Park last night, Derby recording a fifth successive Championship victory to move six points clear at the top while stretching Burnley's winless sequence to 10 matches. But there was also a football rarity, with both managers, Billy Davies and Steve Cotterill, being sent off by Mike Riley.
Davies, the Derby manager, was banished for the second League match running after complaining forcibly when Riley penalised a 54th-minute challenge by Craig Fagan on Burnley's Eric Djemba-Djemba. Cotterill received his marching orders in stoppage time following a heated exchange with Derby's former Burnley defender, Mo Camara, moments after Djemba-Djemba was also shown the red card.
As the dust settled on a contest which Derby won with Steve Howard's fourth-minute goal, his 13th of the season, Davies declined to share his views with the media. The Scot, who watched the remainder of the game from the directors' box, has a charge pending against him of using foul and abusive language to the officials at Southend.
Cotterill did not feel bound by such constraints. The Burnley manager argued Djemba-Djemba, who was booked twice in the final eight minutes, was the victim of a "Premiership sending-off". Howard, he said, had gone to ground "too easily".
He also claimed that the Leeds referee had treated him "like a naughty schoolboy". "Somewhere along the line they'll say 'abusive language'," he said. Asked whether he had sworn, he replied firmly: "No."
Pressed on the reasons for his spat with Camara, Cotterill said: "He flies off the handle at anything," proceeding to suggest mischievously that the Derby player was agitated because Davies had just signed a left-back, Blackburn's James McEveley. Cotterill insisted Burnley were the better side, and indeed they dominated from the midway point in the first half, albeit without really drawing a save worth the name from Stephen Bywater.
Derby had resembled an irresistible force during the opening 25 minutes, prompting Davies' deputy Julian Darby to remark that they had not played better this season, even if they did lose their way thereafter.
Howard's goal, a diving header from David Jones' free-kick to the back post, had seemed likely to spark a Derby spree. This did not materialise but Davies has instilled resilience in Derby. Bywater parried a free-kick by Joey Gudjonsson late in the first half and Kyle Lafferty fired wide in the second, but the leaders held firm.
Gifton Noel-Williams will join the Spanish second-division side Real Murcia today. Cotterill said: "Gifton is joining Real Murcia for £50,000. He's been good for us of late but he was coming to the end of his contract and we wish him well."
Derby County (4-5-1): Bywater; Edworthy, Moore, Leacock, Camara; Teale (Bisgaard, 60), Oakley, Jones, Pearson, Fagan; Howard. Substitutes not used: M Johnson, Peschisolido, Lupoli, Malcolm.
Burnley (4-5-1): Pollitt; Thomas (Foster, 45), Duff, McGreal, Harley (McCann, 90); Gudjonsson, Elliott (Mahon, 70), Djemba-Djemba, J O'Connor, Lafferty; Akinbiyi. Substitutes not used: Coyne (gk), G O'Connor.
Referee: M Riley (W Yorkshire).Reuse content