Faced with the prospect of equalling a club record of five consecutive home defeats, Derby County finally came good at Pride Park last night, their Brazilian striker Junior scoring the winner against 10-man Watford with just two minutes remaining.
A cagey opening had featured little in the way of goalmouth action apart from Danny Webber forcing a spectacular diving save from Derby goalkeeper Andy Oakes.
The match eventually caught fire when Ian Taylor opened the scoring, Mathias Svensson nodding down for his captain to fire a terrific 25-yard right-foot volley past Alec Chamberlain.
But with Derby defender Michael Johnson receiving prolonged treatment after colliding with an advertising hoarding, Marcus Gayle glanced home from Lee Cook's right wing free-kick in the 38th minute. The visitors' Paul Devlin was then sent off moments before the interval after collecting two yellow cards.
An organised Watford defended doggedly until the 73rd minute when substitute Lee Holmes crossed from the left for the on-loan Svensson to steer the ball home.
Nevertheless, Watford hit back again, this time Ashley Young heading an equaliser in the 81st minute from fellow substitute Scott Fitzgerald's right-wing cross.
But it was left to Junior, who scored Derby's winner against Walsall on Saturday, to head home the final goal of the game. Holmes again created mayhem on the flank before the 16-year-old supplied a pinpoint cross to the back post where the striker displayed superb technique to direct his header over the line from an acute angle.
Derby County (4-4-2): Oakes; Jackson, Mills, Johnson (Caldwell, 40), Zavagno (Boertien, h-t); Valakari (Holmes, 67), Huddlestone, Taylor, Morris; Junior, Svensson. Substitutes not used: Grant (gk), Bolder.
Watford (4-4-2): Chamberlain; Cox, Dyche, Gayle, Robinson; Devlin, Hand (Fitzgerald, 77), Mahon, Dyer; Cook (Young, 77), Webber (Ardley, 52). Substitutes not used: Pidgeley (gk), Doyley.
Referee: M Dean (The Wirral).Reuse content