REPORT: Stoke City 2-1 Derby County - Ten-man Potters beat disappointing Rams
Derby County fell to defeat against ten-man Stoke City on Wednesday night in a fiery encounter in Staffordshire.
The hosts, managed by former Rams boss Gary Rowett who received the expected warm welcome from the visiting fans, battled hard throughout to nullify the visitors' expected threats, Derby never really creating enough in the way of chances despite playing for the majority with the extra man following Peter Etebo's red card.
Playing against ten men is rarely easy, but the Rams struggled to break down the defence and lacked quality in the final third when it mattered and Frank Lampard was visibly frustrated by the result when the final whistle blew.
After a quiet opening, Derby had the first chance when Stoke lost possession in their own final third and Tom Lawrence ran on to fire in a low shot which was parried wide by Jack Butland.
Tom Ince saw Scott Carson parry a strike at the other end as the game produced few chances early on, that being the case until the 25th minute when Stoke went in front.
Joe Allen pulled the strings in midfield and threaded a lovely ball in to Sam Clucas who got in between two defenders and shot low into the net via a weak hand from Carson.
There was then drama as Stoke's Etebo was shown a straight red after losing the ball and then going studs up on Richard Keogh. It took a while to sort out after some arguments but Etebo was dispatched and television replays showed it was the correct decision.
Bradley Johnson and Joe Allen got involved in an unsightly tussle in the same incident - Johnson appearing to bite the Stoke man as they grappled but only receiving a yellow card.
Derby then suffered a blow as Curtis Davies went off injured just before the break, his leg seeming to be the problem and a worrying moment for Frank Lampard who has not long welcomed his skipper back from a previous long spell out.
Half-time then arrived with Stoke a goal up but a man down.
Derby began the second-half well, Tom Huddlestone now added in place of Johnson, as Scott Malone's cross found Jack Marriott six yards out and his flick was saved onto the post by Butland, the ball then going behind him but not over the line.
But the visitors would be level three minutes later and it was one of Harry Wilson's free-kick specials. Jayden Bogle was fouled 25 yards out and just to the right of the D, and Wilson bent his strike around the wall and into the far corner with his usual aplomb.
Ince then saw a shot blocked en route to goal following a corner as the Potters aimed to regain some kind of foothold on the game, but the former Ram would have his moment on 63 minutes.
Clucas received the ball out on the left and his low cross found Ince six yards out, the contact not great but enough to see the ball go under Carson who should really have done better.
Sub Fikayo Tomori forced a block from Butland from Mount's inswinging corner on 70 minutes as the Rams fought back, then Huddlestone turned well before shooting straight at Butland from just outside the penalty area, Lawrence doing similar with eight minutes to go, the visitors struggling to find a way through.
Lawrence had another go on 84 but Butland this time managed to push the ball over the bar, just, but that would be the best Derby had left to offer as the hosts held out to take a very satisfying three points for their manager.
Stoke: Butland, Pieters, Allen, Williams, Ince (Edwards 90+2), Etebo, Shawcross (c), Berahino (Afobe 80), Clucas (McClean 74), Martina, Woods
Subs not used: Federici, Martins Indi, Fletcher, Crouch, Edwards
Derby: Carson, Bryson (Waghorn 71), Keogh, Wilson, Mount, Lawrence, Marriott, Johnson (Huddlestone 46), Davies (c) (Tomori 45), Bogle, Malone
Subs not used: Roos, Jozefzoon, Nugent, Bird
Ref: Darren England