If it looks like a Premiership club and feels like one, does that make it a Premiership club? Well, currently not in the case of Derby County, for they are second in the Championship and Billy Davies is wisely deflecting premature talk of promotion. "It's still an uphill climb," the Derby manager said, but there is the inescapable atmosphere around Pride Park that a return to the élite could well happen this season.
Eight wins out of nine mean the Rams are refusing to let Birmingham City move clear at the top of the division, while Davies is talking of reinforcements in the January transfer window. Above all, he wants to sign David Jones.
With the midfielder's first-half performance - the whole Derby team went into their shell after the interval - you could see why. Alert to play around him, as keen as mustard to move all over the pitch, and then just as happy to receive the ball and distribute it, Davies had high praise for Jones.
He clearly admires the 22-year-old, currently on loan from Manchester United, calling him "immense," and, after Jones scored Derby's winner by turning in Arturo Lupoli's cross, noted that there is a touch of Paul Scholes about him.
Crystal Palace, who went close to equalising when Darren Ward headed over late on, have now just two wins in their last 14 games and left their manager Peter Taylor hoping for a bit more luck. Four years after relegation, Derby's fans, if not Davies just yet, are hoping for the Premiership.
Goal: Jones (22) 1-0
Derby County (4-4-1-1): Bywater; Edworthy, Moore, Leacock, Boertien; Barnes, Oakley (Malcolm, 59), S Johnson (M Johnson, 87), Jones; Lupoli (Smith, 71); Stead. Substitutes not used: Jackson, Peschisolido
Crystal Palace (4-4-1-1): Speroni; Lawrence, Hudson, Ward, Granville; Soares, Watson (Fletcher, h-t), Kennedy, McAnuff (Scowcroft, 75); Morrison; Kuqi (Green, 75). Substitutes not used: Flinders (gk), Borrowdale.
Referee: J Moss (West Yorkshire).
Booked: Derby Edworthy; Crystal Palace Granville, Watson.
Man of the match: Jones.
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