Derby missed the opportunity to move into the play offs as they were beaten by Newcastle in front of a capacity crowd at St James’.
After a poor start from Derby, the home side created a number of opportunities with Derby keeper Scott Carson saving comfortably from Isaac Hayden who followed a brilliant attacking move with a tame strike towards goal.
Derby’s best chance of the first half came through Johnny Russell, when he was, after a corner, found in the box before seeing his low right footed shot saved by Karl Darlow.
After constant pressure, Newcastle took the lead on 27 minutes when Matt Ritchie’s shot was deflected high into the air and past the helpless Carson. This was his eighth Championship goal of the season and his sides 57th.
Newcastle had chances to make it two when first, Mo Diame saw a shot brilliantly saved by Scott Carson. This was quickly followed, just after the break, by Aleksandar Mitrovic who missed a huge chance from ten yards when it appeared easier to score.
McClaren, who left Derby for Tyneside in June 2015 before moving back the other way, made a couple of changes in the second half, bringing on Julien de Sart and Abdoul Camara. It was the latter who made a huge impact when he cut inside off the right wing before threading a ball through to Tom Ince who steered wide with the goal gaping. Ikechi Anya then replaced injured midfielder Bradley Johnson as McClaren shifted to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Ince, Anya and Camara playing behind Darren Bent. It was that trio which combined to create another good chance as after being found by Ince, Camara played a great ball (almost identical to the one which played Ince through minutes earlier) into Anya who couldn’t quite reach the ball.
As the game moved towards its close, the Rams had one last opportunity when an Ince corner towards the back post fell to Darren Bent who’s header appeared destined for the net before being cleared off the line by Deandre Yedlin.
Here’s what Steve McClaren had to say to BBC Derby at full time:
“I’m disappointed to lose points but we came here, had a go and got them nervous at the end.”
“We were disappointed with our first-half performance and the goal, but in the second half we were fantastic and should not have lost that game.”
Next up for the Rams:
On Wednesday McClaren’s men travel to Leicester to face the Premier League champions in the FA Cup before facing Bristol City in the first of three league matches at Pride Park.