Saturday saw Derby notch up their 2,000th Football League victory against Crystal Palace.
Both sides entered the game as outside bets to gatecrash the end of season play-offs, however a top ten finish may be more realistic.
Crystal Palace named an unchanged line-up and Derby welcomed back Craig Bryson who missed the mid week defeat at Brighton.
From the kick off it was Derby who started on the attack. Looking much more organised in the centre of midfield with Bryson’s return and a competent performance from Jeff Hendrick who appears to be recapturing his early season form.
With barely six minutes on the clock, the Rams took an early lead. Robinson beat Clyne and crossed the ball for Steven Davies to knock home and open up the scoring. Twent five minutes later Davies left the field after suffering some discomfort to be replaced by Callum Ball.
Palace did have a few efforts in the first half, most notably from Murray and Scannell, but Fielding was well up to the task of keeping the away side out. Robinson had a shot hit the crossbar and Speroni saved another effort from Paul Green.
On the half hour Derby doubled their lead when Jeff Hendrick hit a shot from the edge of the penatly area and to Julian Speroni’s left. There was nothing the keeper could do to keep the effort out and Hendrick scored his third goal of the season.
Derby went in two goals to the good at half time and home supporters were obviously in good spirits.
Dean Moxey was one of two substitutions made by the visitors at the re-start. Moxey was a popular player during his Pride Park days and he received a very warm welcome from the Rams fans.
Four minutes later Derby found themselves 3-0 up. McCarthy handled inside the box and Theo Robinson converted from the spot. Robinson instantaneously picked up the ball when the referee indicated a penalty and he was determined that it was going to be himself who got the opportunity to extend the lead further.
Robinson now has eleven goals this season despite missing a few games through injury.
Late on in the game Fielding was judged to have picked up a backpass, despite Shackell’s claim the ball hit his head prior to reaching the Derby keeper and a quickly taken free kick by Palace saw them reduce the defecit.
Ambrose scored a second for the visitors and Derby looked like they just might blow a game that they had controlled for so long. They did however hang on and move to within five points of the play off zone.
Derby - Fielding, Naylor, Buxton, Shackell, Roberts, Green, Bryson, Hendrick, B Davies, Robinson (Tyson 76), S Davies (Ball 31). Subs not used – Severn, Bailey, Carroll
Crystal Palace - Speroni, Clyne, McCarthy, Gardner, Parr (Appiah 76), Ambrose, Dikagacoi, Jedinak (Moxey 45), Scannell (Williams 45), Murray, Martin. Subs not used – Price, McShane
Man of the Match - Jeff Hendrick
Attendance – 25,222 (1,528 away fans)