The tension at the top of the Championship is beginning to bite – none of the sides chasing leaders QPR won yesterday, Swansea City losing and Leeds United and Nottingham Forest both held to goalless draws at home.
The Swans, second, began brightly at Pride Park but Ashley Williams headed a good early chance wide and moments later risibly passed the ball into his own net to give Derby County a seventh-minute lead. Nine minutes into the second half Steve Davies' header made it 2-0. Substitute Darren Pratley's goal gave Brendan Rodgers' side hope, but the Rams held on for their first home win in 10 games, 2-1.
"It was a misunderstanding and we all make mistakes," Rodgers said of Williams' howler. "There are still 27 points to play for and it will be what we do in April that will define our season."
Ipswich Town's Kieron Dyer, on loan from West Ham and back at his first club, helped them to a feat few sides have achieved this season, keeping fifth-placed Leeds' rampant attack goalless at Elland Road. Wasteful finishing was the host's real downfall, though Leeds manager Simon Grayson blamed the refereeing decisions. His opposite number, Paul Jewell, begged to differ. "You know what Leeds are like," he said, "they want a penalty every time the ball goes in the box."
Unexpectedly beaten in midweek by struggling Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest were again muted in a 0-0 home draw with Doncaster. "What we need at the moment is a bit of break and a goal to ricochet in off somebody's backside," Forest manager Bill Davies said.
Even the side best placed to put pressure on the top six, seventh-placed Burnley, lost, Paul Robinson scoring twice in Millwall's 3-0 win at Turf Moor.
After three defeats Leicester City remembered how to win, Angelo Miguel Vitor scoring twice in their 3-0 defeat of struggling Scunthorpe United. After their win over Forest, the Blades endured a torrid afternoon at Watford. Danny Graham's 20th goal of the season was followed by red cards for Darius Henderson (28 minutes) and Lee Williamson (34), both former Hornets, as Watford eased to a 3-0 win.
Portsmouth were held to a 0-0 home draw by Middlesbrough, while Aaron McLean's 33rd minute goal earned Hull a 1-0 win at Coventry to set a new club record of 14 consecutive away matches unbeaten.
Glenn Murray's curling shot was the pick of leaders Brighton's goals in a 2-0 defeat of Tranmere Rovers but it was all change below them as Bournemouth lost 3-1 at home to Southampton to slip out of the automatic promotion places to fifth. Huddersfield, 1-0 winners at Bristol Rovers, replaced them, Jordan Rhodes scoring the goal and missing a penalty, while third-placed Peterborough's free-scoring attitude overwhelmed Carlisle, George Boyd scoring twice in Posh's 6-0 win.
Gillingham were the only side in the top seven to win, Andy Barcham scoring twice in a 3-1 defeat of Accrington. Leaders Chesterfield lost 2-0 at Crewe, Bury, second, drew 0-0 at Rotherham, who are fourth. Wycombe, third, lost at home to Stevenage, 1-0, and Shrewsbury, fifth, loaned Jake Robinson to Torquay who repaid them by scoring twice in the Gulls 5-0 defeat of Town.