Derby vs Blackburn match report: Darren Bent double bounces Rams back to second

Derby County 2 Blackburn Rovers 0

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The Independent Football

Aston Villa outcast Darren Bent scored twice to take his goals tally to three in as many appearances to enable Derby County to draw level on points with Bournemouth at the head of the Championship.

The 30-year-old striker, who has joined Derby until the end of the season as he seeks to find a club who will appreciate the qualities that failed to impress Villa manager Paul Lambert, struck from close range midway through the second half and again close to the end.

Blackburn had arrived on a high after pulling off one of the weekend’s FA Cup shocks at the expense of Premier League Swansea but delivered a performance more in keeping with their Championship form, which now extends to one win in nine matches.

Derby’s credentials as a Premier League side in waiting have looked less convincing lately but they ground out a result through persistence here, at least getting the surprise home defeat to struggling neighbours Nottingham Forest out of their system.

They had dominated possession in the first half, although without managing to test Jason Steele, failing to force a save from the Blackburn goalkeeper.

Blackburn, with strikers Rudy Gestede and Jordan Rhodes again left out of the starting line-up, threatened briefly at the end of the fist half, when Craig Conway’s volley was pushed away by Lee Grant and Josh King blazed wastefully over the bar.

Derby raised the tempo at the start of the second period and when Bent replaced Simon Dawkins in the first tactical change of the night it took him only four minutes to make his mark.

As a long throw from Ryan Shotton was helped towards the far post, possibly off the head of a defender, the former England striker was in the right place to convert from close range.

Grant saved from substitute Chris Brown as Blackburn sought a way back but Bent added his second in stoppage time, again in the right place as a Chris Martin effort was blocked.

Bent, who spent last season on loan at Fulham and arrived at Derby following a short spell at Brighton, where he scored twice in five games, is expected to leave Villa when his contract expires in the summer.

Derby County (4-3-3): Grant; Shotton, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Hendrick, Mascarell, Hughes; Ward (Bennett, 86) Martin, Dawkins (Bent, 64). Substitutes not used: Roos (gk), Christie, Warnock, Albentosa, Bryson.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-1-1): Steele; Baptiste, Hanley (Rhodes 76), Kilgallon, Olsson; Cairney (Gestede, 43; Brown, 65), Evans, Lowe, Conway; Marshall; King. Substitutes not used: Eastwood (gk), Duffy, Williamson, Taylor, Rhodes, Brown.

Referee: A Davies (Hampshire)