Dexter Blackstock's red for Nottingham Forest opens the way for Derby Country

Nottingham Forest 0 Derby County 1

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Nottingham Forest have acquired new owners, a new manager and almost a new team since they lost twice to Derby last season but a feisty East Midlands derby went the same way as Nigel Clough's side took advantage of the fourth red card in a row in this fixture to win by the only goal.

Craig Bryson provided the decisive moment 10 minutes into a second half that began with Forest striker Dexter Blackstock being sent off for elbowing Derby captain Richard Keogh in an aerial challenge just outside the Derby box.

Forest also picked up four yellow cards, contributing to a disciplinary record that now stands at 22 yellows and two reds in eight Championship matches, the poorest in the division, although by the standards of recent exchanges it was a fairly tame affair. Both sides were fined for failing to control their players after brawls broke out at the City Ground in 2009 and at Pride Park in 2010.

There was no repetition of those scenes, yet some of Derby's challenges, particularly in the first half, were robust enough for referee Rob Madley to find himself pilloried by the home crowd for being too lenient. This was particularly with regard to the treatment being meted out to Blackstock, who had been brought down from behind twice before Jake Buxton earned a 23rd-minute booking for doing so again.

Forest, whose line-up included only two players – goalkeeper Lee Camp and midfielder Andy Reid – who played in both matches last season, had looked the better side before the sending off, although neither side created many chances. Indeed, Derby did not manage a meaningful goal attempt until Connor Sammon's long-range effort whistled over the bar in first-half stoppage time.

Forest had gone close through Chris Cohen, Reid and Simon Cox, although Lewis McGugan wasted a free-kick in a central position by failing to clear the wall and Blackstock could not connect when a long throw from Greg Halford picked him out unmarked at the far post.

The Derby goal came from a cross into the Forest six-yard box from Paul Coutts with which Sammon made thin contact before Bryson arrived to force the ball over the line.

It is the first time for 100 years that Derby have beaten Forest three times in a row. The last time they achieved the same feat was in April, 1912, three days before the sinking of the Titanic.

Forest, whose new loan signing, the Tottenham midfielder, Jermaine Jenas, is not yet match fit, went close to salvaging a point. Derby did not press home their advantage and after Forest had thrown on an extra striker in Billy Sharp for the last 15 minutes they were denied a goal two minutes from time when goalkeeper Frank Fielding beat out a fierce shot by Simon Gillett.

Forest manager Sean O'Driscoll felt the red card was harsh. "Looking at the replay you could see why the referee might give it although in the context of the game it seemed harsh," he said. "The referee had let a lot go and there weren't many shouts from the Derby players so we were a bit stunned."