Derby avenged their defeat at Elland Road a month ago to continue their push for automatic promotion to the Premier League while relegation worries mount for Leeds, whose victory over Steve McClaren’s side at the end of November is one of only two wins in 16 matches.
Ipswich’s victory over Charlton keeps Derby outside the top two for the moment but that could change when the Rams travel to Portman Road in their next Championship action on 10 January.
Neil Redfearn’s team undid Derby with a ruggedly energetic pressing game when the sides last met but have lost four of their five matches since. Although they held out for 41 minutes here, despite losing their captain Stephen Warnock to an early injury, once they fell behind they seldom looked capable of finding a way back, mustering only one shot on target.
They found an unfortunate way to fall behind, midfielder Alex Mowatt turning the ball into his own net as he tried to deal with a Will Hughes cross. Derby doubled their lead four minutes into the second half when centre-back Jake Buxton headed home from a Jeff Hendrick free kick.
Buxton had been recalled by McClaren after suspension in the only change to the side that thumped Birmingham 4-0 at St Andrew’s on Boxing Day. Derby could have had more goals. Immediately after Mowatt’s error, Leeds goalkeeper Marco Silvestri tipped a Richard Keogh header over the bar and saved a shot from Jordon Ibe, who posed problems all evening.
Chris Martin then missed a chance to add a third for Derby in the second half when he headed wide from Craig Forsyth’s inviting cross.
It will have disappointed McClaren that Derby did not turn their dominance into more goals, with a shot-count into double figures and several passages that did not produce goal attempts, but on the other hand he might feel their peak has not yet been reached.
Either way, their progress has maintained the former England coach’s successful return to club management in England, having taken Derby to the play-off final in his first season in charge.
For Leeds, whose supporters chanted the name of Don Revie as they recalled an era when these two clubs jostled for supremacy in the English game, the outlook appears somewhat bleaker.
Derby County (4-3-3): Grant; Christie, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Hendrick (Bryson, 80), Eustace, Hughes; Russell (Coutts, 92), Martin, Ibe (Dawkins, 90).
Leeds United (4-3-2-1): Silvestri; Byram, Bellusci, Cooper, Warnock (Berardi, 8); Bianchi (Tavares, 80), Cook, Mowatt, Austin, Doukara (Sharp, 66); Antenucci.
Referee Keith Stroud (Dorset).Reuse content