Derby 3-0 Millwall: David Nugent hits double for Rams
By Press Association
Last Updated: 23/12/17 6:55pm
Derby underlined their promotion credentials with a fourth consecutive victory as David Nugent scored twice in a 3-0 win over Millwall at Pride Park.
The game was decided midway through the first half when Nugent and Matej Vydra scored three times in the space of six minutes after Lee Gregory had missed a great chance to put Millwall ahead.
Millwall had other chances in an open game but Derby kept a clean sheet for the sixth time in seven games as they swapped places with Bristol City to go third.
The visitors made a promising start but they were caught on the break in the seventh minute when Bradley Johnson's cross from the left found Joe Ledley, who fired wide from 12 yards.
Derby had a real let-off in the 15th minute when Steve Morison put Gregory through, but a poor first touch forced him wide, before his shot was cleared off the line by Curtis Davies and Aiden O'Brien fired the rebound over.
It proved a costly miss and a big moment in the game as Derby scored three times with Nugent involved in all of them. Chris Baird played a corner to the near post in the 23rd minute and Nugent wrong-footed the defence and goalkeeper with a back heel that crept inside the far post.
Nugent then provided a ball inside that gave Vydra the space to line up a shot from 20 yards that arrowed into the bottom right corner of Jordan Archer's net in the 25th minute.
Millwall's hopes of getting back in the game were all but extinguished three minutes later when Johnson did well to pull the ball back from the left and Nugent got in front of a defender to flick the ball under the bar.
Derby had not conceded in their previous three games so it looked bleak for Millwall, but they went close in the 43rd minute when Shaun Hutchinson glanced a header wide from a George Saville corner, before a Max Romeo shot was deflected over by Richard Keogh.
Millwall were sent out early for the second half and they had another chance in the 48th minute when Gregory knocked a cross down and O'Brien's shot was tipped over by Scott Carson.
Derby almost scored again two minutes later when Archer had to stretch to turn behind an Andreas Weimann shot, although Gregory was close to turning in a cross at the other end.
Carson denied Gregory again in the 53rd minute with a superb reaction save from a close-range volley but Derby came close to a fourth when Weimann's shot was blocked on the line.
Gary Rowett: "I know it sounds a bit cliched but I'm not really bothered about the other results, bothered where we are in the league or how many points we've got. Once you start doing that, you then start making decisions and judgements based on other people and it's about what we do. If we maintain what we are doing we will finish in a very strong position.
"The point is, we've got to keep trying to be better and the players are doing that, they are buying into what we are trying to do and everyone is working incredibly hard, so our focus is just on us."
Neil Harris: "We've had a lot of big moments like that on the road this year where we've not taken our opportunities at key moments and been punished. We made three or four errors and conceded three goals, we had numerous clear-cut chances and have not taken them and that's the realism of where we are.
"I said to the players that anyone who was getting a little bit ahead of themselves after seven points in three games, that's a reality check, so we'll take it on the chin and move on."
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