Derby 1-0 Fulham: Cameron Jerome heads hosts into slender lead in play-off tie
By Simeon Gholam at Pride Park
Last Updated: 12/05/18 11:54am
Cameron Jerome's header handed Derby a 1-0 victory in their play-off semi-final first leg with Fulham on Friday night.
Jerome nodded home in the 34th minute at Pride Park after being picked out by a brilliant Craig Forsyth cross, and that proved to be enough for Derby to take a slender lead into the second leg at Craven Cottage on Monday.
Fulham last failed to score in a Sky Bet Championship encounter on December 16, but they were largely kept at bay by a supreme defensive display from Derby.
Sky Bet Championship Golden Boot winner Matej Vydra returned to the starting line-up for Derby, while Floyd Ayite replaced Lukas Piazon in attack for Fulham.
Jerome had looked a striker bereft of confidence earlier this year, but he finished the campaign with a flurry of four goals in the last three games and added another against Fulham.
Forsyth whipped in a beauty of a cross from the left and Matt Targett was no match for Jerome at the far post, who rose powerfully to head home.
Fulham went in search for an equaliser and went agonisingly close to snatching it twice in the space of a minute shortly after half time.
Derby: Carson (7), Keogh (7), Davies (8), Forsyth (8), Wisdom (7), Huddlestone (8), Johnson (7), Weimann (6), Vydra (6), Lawrence (6), Jerome (7)
Subs: Anya (n/a), Hanson (n/a), Nugent (n/a)
Fulham: Bettinelli (6), Fredericks (6), Targett (5), Odoi (6), Ream (6), McDonald (6), Johansen (6), Cairney (7), Ayite (5), Sessegnon (5), Mitrovic (5)
Subs: Kebano (n/a), Norwood (n/a), Piazon (n/a)
Man of the match: Curtis Davies
First it was Kevin McDonald who rattled the crossbar from the edge of the area, then it was Floyd Ayite who sent a header over from a position where he should have at least hit the target. Tom Cairney also tried his hardest to pull his side level, but Scott Carson was more than equal to his fierce drive from the edge of the area after 65 minutes.
Slavisa Jokanovic then made a double change with 15 minutes to go, throwing on Neeskens Kebano and Lucas Piazon for Ryan Sessegnon, who struggled to make an impact all night, and Floyd Ayite, but it made little difference as Derby managed to see out the first half of the tie.
Man of the match - Curtis Davies
The Derby defender has been superb all season for Gary Rowett's side but this might have been his best display of the campaign so far. Aleksandar Mitrovic has been outstanding for Fulham since he joined in January but Davies kept him quiet all night.
Gary Rowett: "I was very happy with lots of things. When we showed the quality on the ball we got in some really good positions, I thought we were a counter-attacking threat all night, which is something that we worked on a lot - even though we were at home, we thought we could take advantage of that. We know Fulham are a good side and it's that conundrum of trying to press them too high and I thought defensively, we were very, very disciplined."
Slavisa Jokanovic: "My team showed the quality, showed the mentality and completely dominated the game. I believe it is not enough and we definitely deserved a different result, but everything is still open and we are going to be ready for Monday night. We made enough to score a goal, but we weren't clinical enough today and we need to be a little bit more lucky - at the end it is part of the football."
When's the second leg?
Fulham host Derby at Craven Cottage on Monday night, live on Sky Sports Football from 7.30pm. Kick-off is at 7.45pm