Derby County made it three successive victories as they secured their first away win of their Championship campaign against a Stoke City side who have now only won one in their last six at the Bet365 Stadium.
Having not played a fixture since December 11th, it was no surprise to see Stoke make a slow start, with Derby looking to improve on their impressive record of avoiding defeat in the final league game of a calendar year since 2010. Wayne Rooney’s side controlled the tempo in the early stages with the ‘Potters’ looking subdued, much to the frustration of the home crowd. The dominance proved costly for Michael O’Neill’s side as the ‘Rams’ took the lead in the 16th minute with Kamil Jóźwiak causing the damage, as his driving run parted the Stoke defence before a perfect through ball allowed Luke Plange to tuck home in a cool, collected fashion.
Stoke looked to bounce back after falling behind as they attempted to stay intact with the top six, searching for a return to the Premier League since their relegation in 2018, but to no avail as the first half petered out with Ryan Allsop failing to be threatened in the first period. On the back of a dismal first half from the hosts, they looked to avoid a league double of H2H losses for the first time since 2005/06, and went on the front-foot with the visitors playing the majority of the second half on the counter attack and limited to few chances.
Derby’s defence had also nullified the ‘Potters’ for the majority of the second half before a seemingly dealable corner found its way into the path of Tom Ince who drilled home an equaliser, relieving pressure from the home crowd. The ecstasy didn’t last long as Colin Kazim-Richards stole all three points at the death, ensuring the ‘Rams’ survival hopes live on as momentum gathers.