Stephen Bywater stood between Derby and a flashback from five years earlier as the Championship leaders scraped through to the fifth round of the FA Cup. With a bit of history on their side, as well as a manager and a captain who are both former Derby players, Rovers sniffed an upset and would have created one but for Bywater's efforts in the home goal.
In 2002, they came to Pride Park and beat a County side on their way out of the Premiership 3-1. Derby avoided a repeat, but hardly looked like a team set to return to the top flight.
Despite conceding just four goals in their previous nine games, experienced defenders like Michael Johnson and Darren Moore were frequently all at sea against the energy and enterprise of the Pirates.
A travelling crew of 6,000 "Gasheads" were ultimately frustrated by one piece of quality finishing and a couple of key decisions that went against them.
When Bywater was finally beaten by Andy Sandell's header, the goal was disallowed for a far from obvious push. Then, 20 minutes from time, Aaron Lescott was unlucky to be sent off for what was undeniably a late tackle on Arturo Lupoli, but one without any malice. "It left us with too much to do with 10 men," said Paul Trollope, the Rovers manager.
Andy D'Urso's red card would have carried more credibility if it had not come shortly after a bizarre decision to award Derby a corner after Lupoli had run the ball dead. It all added to the feeling that it was not going to be the League Two side's day, although it took the arrival of a specialist tradesman to seal their fate.
Paul Peschisolido is now 35, out of contract at the end of the season and used almost exclusively as a late substitute. It was a scenario tailor-made for the Canadian as he latched on to a clever pass from Seth Johnson and beat Steve Phillips with a crisp left-footer eight minutes from time.
Goal: Peschisolido (82).
Derby County (4-4-2): Bywater; Jackson, Moore, M Johnson, Camara; Fagan (Bisgaard, 85), Barnes, Malcolm (Smith, 81), S Johnson; Howard, Lupoli (Peschisolido, 73). Substitutes not used: Edworthy, Oakley.
Bristol Rovers (4-4-2): Phillips; Lescott, Hinton, Elliott, Carruthers; Igoe (Rigg, 83), Campbell, Disley, Sandell (Haldane, 76); Lambert, Walker (R Green, 71). Substitutes not used: Lines, Parrinello.
Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).
Booked: Derby County Lupoli; Bristol Rovers Elliott.
Sent off: Lescott (70).
Man of the match: Bywater.
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