Rasiak keeps Derby on right track

Crewe Alexandra 1 - Derby County 2
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The Independent Football

Derby's 11th away win reinforced their promotion bid as Crewe's nosedive continued. After 15 games without a win, Dario Gradi's side are perilously close to the bottom three, their relegation fears deepened by goals from Grzegorz Rasiak and Tommy Smith despite a late consolation from David Vaughan.

Derby's 11th away win reinforced their promotion bid as Crewe's nosedive continued. After 15 games without a win, Dario Gradi's side are perilously close to the bottom three, their relegation fears deepened by goals from Grzegorz Rasiak and Tommy Smith despite a late consolation from David Vaughan.

Crewe's defensive record is the poorest in the Championship, not helped by the current absence of both their first-choice centre-backs through injury, and it took Derby only 16 minutes to add to their goals against tally. Rasiak used his height and strength to good effect to meet Inigo Idiakez's right-wing corner with a powerful header.

Six minutes before half-time, Idiakez might have extended the advantage but could not induce quite enough dip from a free-kick just outside the area.

Crewe recovered from a goal down to take a point against Derby's relegation-threatened neighbours, Nottingham Forest, last Saturday but struggled to escape their own half for long periods last night.

Derby, relegated from the Premiership three seasons ago, have reckoned on 73 points being enough to secure a play-off place. Unbeaten away from home in four months before they lost at Ipswich at the weekend, this was one fixture they saw as a banker maximum.

Crewe began the second half with their brightest spell to that point, in which Vaughan was unlucky to see a fine effort roll just wide and Steve Jones seemed to have a reasonable penalty claim for a foul against Michael Johnson.

Then, after Adam Bolder had brought down Vaughan in full flight, Kenny Lunt was inches wide with a cleverly struck free kick, before Jones squandered the most inviting chance of the night by skewing the ball over the bar with only Lee Camp to beat.

Derby grew understandably anxious at not having made more of their early dominance, their nerves not helped when Marcus Tudgay gave Rasiak the chance to bury his second goal only for the Polish international to scoop his effort over the top. With 17 minutes left, however, they took advantage of Crewe's eagerness to go forward when Morten Bisgaard's pass found Tommy Smith with time and space to give Derby the cushion they needed after a misunderstanding between Vaughan and Neil Sorvel.

Vaughan gave Crewe belated hope with a spectacular 25-yard strike, but it was not enough to ease their relegation jitters.

Crewe Alexandra (4-4-2): Williams; Moses, McCready, Murdock, Tonkin; Bell (White, 72), Sorvel, Lunt, Vaughan; S Jones, Varney. Substitutes not used: Tomlinson (gk), Walker, Cochrane, Rivers.

Derby County (4-5-1): Camp; Kenna, Huddlestone, Johnson (Mills, 74), Makin; Tudgay, Bisgaard, Bolder, Idiakez, Smith; Rasiak. Substitutes not used: Miller (gk), Peschisolido, Junior, Holmes.

Referee: A Leake (Lancashire).

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