Louie Sibley’s last-minute winner gave Derby a 1-0 home victory over stubborn Stevenage to boost their automatic promotion hopes in League One.

With top scorer James Collins out with a knee injury, Derby lacked a presence up front but Sibley finally found a way through in the last minute of normal time.

The victory moved Derby three points clear of third-placed Bolton.

It was Stevenage who came closest to scoring in a goalless first half.

Joe Wildsmith missed a corner and Sonny Bradley had to clear off the line in the 31st minute and Wildsmith rescued Derby soon after when the hosts failed to deal with a long throw and the goalkeeper stopped Jordan Roberts’ shot on the turn.

Derby did not register a shot on goal in the first half and they continued to struggle until Kane Wilson surged forward in the 68th minute and played Nathaniel Mendez-Laing in but he fired wide.

Max Bird was denied by a superb Taye Ashby-Hammond save in the 77th minute but Derby struck late on.

Mendez-Laing cut in from the right and set up Sibley who finished first time from 12 yards.

Derby boosted their League One promotion hopes with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Exeter.

The Rams created the first chance with James Collins firing straight at Vili Sinisalo from 10 yards, while Exeter’s Reece Cole was off target with a shot from distance before sending a free-kick straight at goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith.

Derby took the lead in the 24th minute. Ilmari Niskanen lost the ball to Max Bird, who drove forward before firing past Sinisalo from distance as his shot bounced over the goalkeeper’s arm and into the net.

Jack Aitchison fired against the base of the post for Exeter, but it was Derby that ended the first half on top with Bird twice forcing Sinisalo into saves with long-range shots.

The Rams doubled their lead after 52 minutes when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing burst onto a ball over the top and had too much pace for the Exeter defence as he slammed it past Sinisalo and into the bottom corner.

The Rams completed the scoring in the 62nd minute when Tom Barkhuizen received the ball wide on the left and cut infield before curling a delightful shot into the far corner.

Derby head coach Paul Warne blamed the “fear” factor for his team’s failure to defend the lead against Shrewsbury.

Max Bird fired Derby ahead only for Aaron Pierre to equalise three minutes from the end of normal time.

It was a disappointing end to what had been a frustrating afternoon for Derby, with Shrewsbury doing a good job of restricting them to few clear chances.

Warne said: “I thought first half was my fault, I picked the wrong shape for the game. We didn’t really get out and we looked a bit edgy.

“I changed the system and we looked a lot more like it second half and created some decent opportunities.

“We got the lead and then it’s all about getting the second goal, but we didn’t play with enough personality to create enough chances to get a second.

“My regret is we didn’t play with enough personality and freedom when we were leading and it looked like we played with a little bit of fear and you’re never going to get success off that.

“I’m hugely disappointed that we worked all week to get the win and we’ve lost it on a throw-in. It does feel like it’s two points lost (especially) when it’s that late on.”

Derby made the most of one of their rare openings in the 54th minute with Bird firing a low shot under Marko Marosi following a corner.

Marosi turned behind a Conor Hourihane free-kick before Shrewsbury stunned Pride Park when Mal Benning got behind Derby on the left and found Pierre, who beat Joe Wildsmith with a low drive.

Wildsmith saved from Carl Winchester but Derby almost won it in stoppage time as Curtis Nelson headed against the bar and Tom Barkhuizen was denied by Marosi.

Shrewsbury head coach Paul Hurst said: “I’m pleased with a point, I think we’d have taken that before the game, although we came here not just to take a point or hang on.

“The feel I had was I don’t think they caused us too many problems but when we fell behind you’re concerned about how the rest of the game would pan out, but it seemed to spark us into wanting to play more.

“That’s a frustration but pleasing as well – as in, was that a great response from us or from them taking a backward step because they got themselves in front?

“We started to pass the ball more and had a spell where we were good. I still think there’s got to be more belief from the players at times, although overall I think we deserved that point.”

Derby boss Paul Warne was left counting his lucky stars after his side’s 0-0 draw at Lincoln.

The promotion-chasing Rams dropped points for only the third time since the end of October at Sincil Bank.

But it could have been worse if it was not for inspired goalkeeper Josh Vickers, who produced a string of fine saves to frustrate the win-shy hosts, whose winless league run stretched to eight games.

Warne said: “It could have been a lot worse, it could have been a bit better. That’s my view of it. We just didn’t do enough to take a chance.

“We have an attitude to take a risk. We want to win every game, we feel we have a responsibility to get promoted to try and win as many games as we can; away from home or at home, that’s the way we play.

“Luckily, our goalie got us out of trouble. Sometimes you need that.

“I still thought we would have scored, a guilt-edge chance. But we didn’t. We huffed and puffed. We just didn’t have enough to win a game.

“It’s always the way if, for whatever reason, your two, three or four forwards, whatever you play with, can’t create a chance then you want more and more options.

“If I was really greedy I’d have 10 centre forwards with six on the bench and I’d keep flipping them.

“We can’t always rely on Tom [Barkhuizen], Collo [James Collins] and Nat [Mendez-Laing] to create something all the time, it’s impossible.

“You can’t go through the whole season being the best player. Although in fairness most of the time they are.”

Despite an elusive win going begging, Lincoln boss Michael Skubala was pleased with his side’s performance.

He was particularly impressed by young strikers Freddie Draper (19) and Luton loanee Joe Taylor (21), the latter being denied a goal in the second half by a clearance off the line.

Skubala said: “I’m really pleased. I thought they worked really hard.

“We created some big chances. I thought the game had everything from the lads and we were brilliant, without getting the win.

“I thought we looked a real threat. We had a 19 and 20-year-old up front and we saw how exciting their partnership can be.

“Freddie and Joe have a lot to learn but the signs were good.

“I was impressed with everybody. I thought they were all really good.

“I was disappointed for them because they deserved to win with the chances they created.

“Joe will be fine, he’ll be fine. He’ll score goals for us. If he starts scoring goals for us then he’s got a bright future.

“He’s got to score. They’re still young, still new to League One and that can’t be underestimated.

“Derby are a big team on a great run so I’m really pleased.”

Derby boss Paul Warne believes his side’s away form could be the catalyst for promotion after a 3-1 victory at Fleetwood.

The Rams fired themselves to within two points of second-placed Bolton with a fine fifth straight victory on the road.

Player-of-the-match Nathaniel Mendez-Laing opened the scoring before prolific marksman James Collins hit his 16th goal of the season on the stroke of the break.

Jayden Stockley pulled one back in the second half, but Tom Barkhuizen ensured Derby’s impressive away run went on.

Warne said: “We did enough to win and come the end of the season it doesn’t matter how you win, it’s just important that you win.

“We’ve done well away from home in different football matches. At Oxford and Wigan, they were different matches to today.

“It’s a boost for us. They’re good lads and they want to get near the summit.

“There aren’t many weekends when you know you’re going to have a positive trajectory with a win because of the FA Cup.

“To take ourselves into third is great. I think we’ve got another gear.

“In fairness, at 2-1 I can’t say my blood pressure wasn’t through the roof because it was. Every time they went forward you’re always thinking the worst so to get the third goal was a relief.

“Over the course of the season you can outplay teams at Pride Park, but away from home these games are difficult. It’s winter football.

“We could have been better, but I’ll take three points over a better performance and a draw.

“We need to be better and have more control in games. I thought we overcomplicated it a bit in the second half.

“Our own errors allowed them back into the game and that’s disappointing.

“We allowed the opposition in and then had to weather the storm.”

New boss Charlie Adam is yet to taste victory since taking over the reigns at Fleetwood two games ago.

The Cod Army remained rooted to the foot of League One after a third straight league defeat.

But former Scotland international Adam believes his squad, who have not won in their last 11 games in all competitions, have what it takes to stay up.

He said: “I couldn’t be anymore proud of these lads.

“Again, we’re disappointed with the goals that we lost. But we’ll take positives from the performance, the endeavour, the shape and the organisation. They took everything in.

“They came up against a quality side in Derby, they punished us. But I couldn’t be prouder of these players.

“This group of players are taking on what we’re trying to give them as a staff. If they keep giving me that then we’ll be pushing up the league there’s no doubt about that.

“My two midfielders were magnificent. I said that to them in the dressing room, they’re playing against a Premier League player in Conor Hourihane and I thought they were magnificent against him.

“If they get that level of intensity and quality during games then we’re a good side and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season with them.

“We could have nicked a point. We had chances. But it comes back to moments in games. We conceded a set piece in the second minute of added time in the first half and then we’re 2-0 down.

“If you don’t take your chances with the quality that Derby have you can get punished. But I want to take the positives and we’ll build on that for next week.”

Charlie Adam’s first home game in charge of Fleetwood ended with a 3-1 defeat to promotion-chasing Derby.

The former Scotland international has lost his first two matches, after defeat by the same scoreline at Shrewsbury on New Year’s Day, with his bottom side now winless in nine league games.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and James Collins did the majority of the damage in the first-half at Highbury.

Jayden Stockley pulled one back but Tom Barkhuizen sealed a vital three points in County’s promotion push in stoppage time.

Josh Earl squandered a great early chance for the hosts when he nodded wide.

Winger Mendez-Laing used his pace to get in behind and neatly slot home the opener in the 27th minute.

He almost made it two minutes later as he fired wide before Collins bagged a 16th goal of the season with a glancing header from Conor Hourihane’s corner at the near post.

After a poor spell, Stockley gave the hosts a glimmer as he converted Shaun Rooney’s deadly cross with 15 minutes to go.

But Barkhuizen sealed a fifth straight away win for the Rams with his late strike.

Wayne Rooney’s short tenure as Birmingham manager has come to an end with his sacking on Tuesday morning.

The former England striker, who signed a three-and-a-half-year contract at St Andrew’s in October, headed into the role with a 27 per cent win rate across his first two jobs with Derby and DC United – an overall figure that has dropped to 26 per cent.

Here, the PA news agency looks at his record in detail.

Derby

Rooney moved from his playing role at Derby into the manager’s seat, initially sharing the job with Liam Rosenior, Shay Given and Justin Walker before taking sole charge.

They were bottom of the Championship at the time but climbed to 18th, eight points clear of the relegation zone, before a late-season slump saw them survive by just a point.

Their relegation the following season came after a total of 21 points were deducted – 12 for entering administration and nine for historical financial breaches.

They rallied with three successive wins in December 2021 and 10 in their final 25 games of the season and without the deductions would have finished 17th on 55 points.

He won 24, drew 22 and lost 39 of his 85 games as manager, including those with the managerial group in charge, for a 28.2 per cent win rate.

DC United

That win percentage dipped to 25.9 with DC United as Rooney was unable to make his mark as a head coach in Major League Soccer.

His side were mathematically eliminated from play-off contention in the 2023 season despite the win over New York City on October 8 that marked the end of Rooney’s reign.

Rooney’s “mutually agreed” departure came with him having been boss for the whole of that season and the last 15 of the 2022 campaign.

His final record in all competitions, including two games in the US Open Cup and three in the Leagues Cup, read won 14, drew 14, lost 26.

Birmingham

Rooney was appointed as boss of Birmingham – who were taken over by United States-based Shelby Companies Limited in July and had seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady become a minority owner the following month – two days on from the sacking of John Eustace while lying sixth in the Championship table.

He spoke of the goal of promotion, but defeat in his first match, 1-0 at Middlesbrough, set the tone and another 14 games later he departs with the team languishing in 20th place.

Blues registered victories in only two of Rooney’s 15 matches, with nine losses, for a win percentage of 13.3.

That gives him an overall managerial record of 40 wins from 154 games (26 per cent), with 40 draws and 74 defeats.

Derby head coach Paul Warne hailed his team’s 3-2 comeback win at League One promotion rivals Oxford as “magical”.

The U’s led 2-0 after 13 minutes when Cameron Brannagan converted a penalty then hammered in a 25-yard free-kick.

But the Rams fought back brilliantly.

Craig Forsyth gave them a lifeline by turning in a flick-on corner at the far post in stoppage time at the end of the first half.

And two goals in the last nine minutes from substitute Liam Thompson then Eiran Cashin sent Derby’s 1,700 fans into raptures as the Rams stretched their unbeaten run to nine games.

Warne said: “To win in the way we did was pretty magical. To win 3-2 like that was quite exciting!

“I thought we actually played very well in the first half too. Obviously we didn’t start the game well, conceding from a penalty and a free-kick in the first 13 minutes.

“But I thought we still had control of the game in the first half. The goal just before half-time proved a big swing. It changed the team talk, I won’t lie.

“I said to the team at half-time that we didn’t need to rush things, we had ages left to get back into it.

“I’m just really proud of the group. The game-changers came on for us and had a massive effect. We tried to press with a real energy and to win at another team in the play-off places is special.

“The fact that Tommo came on and scored with a brilliant header gave me a lot of pleasure too.

“It showed real character from us. If you want to be successful you have to win in different ways and we found another way to win tonight.

“We were thinking, coming here, about not losing because you don’t want a play-off rival to go six points clear of you – but we also came to win with an aggressive team and line-up.

“It was probably the most hard-earned three points we have had all season. But it was also a thoroughly deserved three points – I don’t think anyone in the ground would deny that.

“And I appreciate our fans sticking with us and really getting behind us even when we were two goals down. It was an exciting night and one we won’t forget.”

Oxford head coach Des Buckingham felt the timing of Forsyth’s goal had a big impact on the game.

He said: “I was very excited by how we started the game, and very frustrated by how we finished the game.

“We started extremely well. But it’s about starting and ending well, and putting it together for 90 minutes.

“We can’t switch off, as a collective, just before half-time like that. There were two minutes of added-on time and it was in the 48th minute, which was also frustrating.

“That goal came from a set-piece and the third goal came from a free-kick. That’s five goals against us in three games that have come from set-pieces. We’re not the biggest side, we know that, but we need to be cuter too.

“Derby are a good side – a big, physical side. But them bringing on five fresh experienced players made a difference. We had to make an enforced change with an injury to Tyler Goodrham, which we weren’t expecting to make.

“And we ended up trying not to lose the game rather than trying to win it.”

Derby manager Paul Warne watched his players reward him for giving them Christmas Day off as they picked up a 1-0 victory at League One strugglers Wigan.

Curtis Nelson headed home the only goal in the 19th minute, but only the brilliance of Wigan goalkeeper Sam Tickle kept the scoreline respectable.

And Warne – whose side have now won seven of their last eight matches – was a happy man after subjecting one of his former clubs to a third defeat on the spin.

“It was the most pleasing performance of the season, because it was away from home against good opposition and probably the best we’ve played collectively,” he said.

“Even at the end I was making substitutions just to help the lads out, not for any other reason.

“Wigan have taken a couple of good scalps here, so we knew we would have to do a lot out of possession.

“It takes a real understanding of the game, and they’ve been well coached this week to understand how we wanted it to look.

“But then they changed their shape which made it more difficult.

“I just liked the energy and the drive of the team. There were tackles and heads when it was needed. There was also a bit of creativity and some really good performances.

“I gave them Christmas Day off and I wanted them to show me it was the right decision. They paid back my trust in them.”

Warne’s only gripe would have been that the game was not put to bed during the utterly one-sided first half.

“Sometimes you perform at a level then it can all go wrong, so I was anxious,” he added.

“When one down, you throw the kitchen sink and that’s what makes football.”

Wigan boss Shaun Maloney took full responsibility for the disappointing first half that paved the way for the Rams’ victory.

Due to injuries, illness and unavailability, Maloney’s starting XI featured seven academy graduates – with an average age between them of just over 21.

Maloney made a double change at the break, sending on the more experienced Callum McManaman and Jonny Smith, which led to a second half that was far more even, but the damage had been done.

“It kind of felt like two performances in one game, one in each half,” he assessed.

“But I can’t be too critical of the players in that first half, I have to take that one.

“I think I was over-reliant on too many young players in that first half.

“Those young players have been brilliant for me and this football club since I’ve been here, and they’ll definitely come again, that’s for sure.

“Derby are a really good side, good squad, very experienced, a match for anyone at this level.

“Normally when you’re bringing young players in, you’re wanting to drip them in, when the team is in good form.

“In the second half – apart from the first five minutes, when they had a couple of chances – I felt it was much better.

“It felt like we went toe to toe with Derby, and there wasn’t much between the two teams in the second half.”

Paul Warne was glad Tyrese Fornah ignored him and set up Derby’s winning goal in a 2-1 League One victory over Bristol Rovers.

The midfielder delivered the pass that Nathaniel Mendez-Laing put away in the last minute to take Derby into the top six.

It ended Rovers’ six-game unbeaten run in all competitions but for long periods the visitors looked like frustrating Derby.

In a scrappy first half, the away side came closest to scoring when a Grant Ward shot was touched onto the post by Joe Wildsmith.

Mendez-Laing produced a moment of quality Derby needed in the 66th minute when he went past Josh Grant on the right and whipped in a low cross which Jack Hunt could only turn into his own net.

Derby missed chances to score a second and Rovers looked to have earned a point in the 87th minute when former Rams striker Chris Martin headed in an Antony Evans free-kick.

But Fornah had other ideas and three minutes later, picked out Mendez-Laing who fired a low shot from the centre of the box past Matthew Cox.

Warne said: “He’s (Fornah) been on international duty. It was good to have him back and he looked as if he had a bit of a spring in his step.

“He came on today and was a real force. The first goal, if you watch it back you’ll see him running into the box like an absolute whippet and if Jack Hunt hadn’t connected, he probably would have scored.

“For the second goal – in fairness to him – I’m glad he didn’t listen to me because I wanted him to give it to Nat (Mendez-Laing) straight away and he didn’t.

“I’m thinking ‘what’s he doing’ and then he gives it back to Nat and I’m thinking ‘that’s what he’s doing, I get it’! He was excellent and played a big part in our win.

“We changed the shape at half-time. Created enough chances to win but if you’ve only got one goal, you’re always susceptible to an equaliser so then to get a late winner is great.”

Rovers interim manager Andy Mangan said: “It’s tough. First half, I thought everything went to plan, we frustrated them, hit them on the counter and had chances.

“I’m gutted for the lads because I think they deserved more, I thought everything we planned came to fruition. Mistakes happen in games but we’ve got to cut that out.

“But I thought we had some really good moments and I think that’s probably up there with the best performance since I’ve been in charge.

“Unfortunately, we’ve made a couple of mistakes but there were loads of moments we can take great confidence from.”

League One Derby left it late to avoid an upset at Crewe as last-gasp goals from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Conor Hourihane secured a 2-2 draw at Gresty Road.

Goals from Courtney Baker-Richardson and Elliott Nevitt in either half had swept the League Two front-runners into a two-goal lead and the Rams fell away after dominating the first period.

Crewe goalkeeper Harvey Davies saved Conor Washington’s header with his leg and Baker-Richardson cleared Sonny Bradley’s set-piece header off the line.

The Railwaymen were dangerous on the break and Joe Wildsmith blocked a Rio Adebisi effort after Ryan Nyambe lost possession on the edge of the box.

Tom Barkhuizen dragged an effort past a post and Washington curled over, but the visitors were caught out when Adebisi delivered a superb cross to the far post where Baker-Richardson finished in the 41st minute.

Wildsmith saved from Nevitt and Conor Thomas either side of the interval, but Mendez-Laing should have equalised when Korey Smith delivered a cross and the attacker headed over with the goal at his mercy.

Nevitt’s finishing, though, was spot on as he took Baker-Richardson’s pass and fired in off the far post in the 54th minute.

Paul Warne made a raft of changes and Kane Wilson’s lofted drive was saved by Davies at the near post and another Rams substitute, James Collins, saw a close-range finish chalked off for offside.

With time running out Mendez-Laing’s 89th-minute shot slipped through Davies’ hands to reduce the arrears and the attacker then set up Hourihane, who finished into the top corner in the third minute stoppage time.

Derby goalkeeper Josh Vickers has paid an emotional tribute to his wife after revealing she has died of cancer less than four months after they were married.

The 27-year-old former Lincoln and Rotherham keeper confirmed on social media that his wife Laura died on Tuesday.

Alongside a picture of the couple on their wedding day, Vickers, who started his career at Arsenal, wrote: “I have written and unwritten this so many times and still can’t find the right words to say and don’t know if I ever will.

“On Tuesday evening my wife lost her long battle against cancer…

“Laura is the strongest, bravest and most loving person I have ever met. Even though everything she was going through, she continued to smile, never letting anything get in the way of having a good time and making a lifetime of memories.

“We have cried, laughed and danced our way through some tough times.

“I will cherish every moment we spent together from the first time we met to the moment you peacefully passed. I know that you will be looking down on me and continuing to inspire me every day.

“Thank you to everyone that has supported myself and both families through this incredibly difficult time. Truly fortunate to have the most amazing family and friends!

“I Love You Always & Forever.”

Vickers’ Derby team-mates showed their support by holding up his shirt following their 2-0 League One victory over Carlisle on Saturday, while the Rams and his former clubs posted messages of condolence.

Martyn Waghorn scored for the second time in four days to give Derby a 1-0 win over Fleetwood that ended a run of three home defeats.

Derby swarmed all over Fleetwood from the start and got the goal their dominance deserved in the 23rd minute.

Conor Washington’s shot was deflected to Waghorn, who swivelled to send a low shot inside Jay Lynch’s left post.

Danny Mayor fired over as Fleetwood responded and Derby survived a scare in the 45th minute when Jayden Stockley headed against Joe Wildsmith’s right post.

It was a reminder that Derby needed a second and they went close several times at the start of the second half through Liam Thompson and substitute James Collins.

But Fleetwood almost equalised in the 72nd minute when Promise Omochere’s header was tipped against the bar by Wildsmith, who pushed away a Junior Quitirna shot six minutes later.

Quitirna flashed a ball across the six-yard box in stoppage time but Derby held on for their second win of the season.

Derby head coach Paul Warne described his side as a “nearly team” after they were beaten 2-1 at home by Oxford.

Mark Harris was the matchwinner for the second time in four days as Oxford deservedly took the points at Pride Park.

The visitors went ahead in the 32nd minute when Curtis Nelson gave the ball away and Cameron Brannagan played in Harris to fire into the top-right corner.

Derby were better after the break but needed a great save from Joe Wildsmith to deny Billy Bodin in the 64th minute although Oxford’s clever movement and precise passing was rewarded eight minutes later.

Another slick move ended with Bodin setting up Harris to beat Wildsmith with a low drive.

Derby gave themselves hope when Martyn Waghorn reduced the arrears in the 87th minute but it was not enough to prevent a third home defeat of the season.

Warne said: “We seem to be at the moment, and I include myself because I’m at the front of it, to be a nearly team.

“We nearly score off a set-piece, we nearly score off one across the box, we nearly pick out a man, we’re nearly a lot better but at the moment we’re not.

“It’s disappointing, it wasn’t us at our best, I thought we looked nervy first half which surprised me because three-quarters of the team were here last year.

“Oxford are a strong team and I think they’ll be up there come the end of the season but whether we showed them a bit too much respect and we keep giving teams a little lift at the moment.

“We were poor tonight and just had too many players off it and we need to get back to it very quickly.”

Oxford head coach Liam Manning said: “I think what you see is a group of players working hard for each other and fighting for the club.

“For me, some of the most impressive stuff tonight was how we defended set-pieces. We stood up to it, we showed bravery, we showed discipline and a real spirit which for me is really important.

“It was an important message at half-time not to try and hold on to 1-0 because when you come to a place like this with the strength they have in their squad if you try and see out a 1-0 for 45 minutes I think you’ll be in trouble.

“So I think the lads did a tremendous job of defending when we had to but showing quality in transition and showing quality to keep the ball. I think collectively we were excellent.”

Mark Harris’ double gave Oxford a 2-1 win at Derby.

Harris scored in each half before Martyn Waghorn replied late on for the home side.

Oxford had the first shot on target in the 17th minute with Marcus Browne forcing Joe Wildsmith into a diving save after good build-up play.

The visitors deservedly went ahead in the 32nd minute when Curtis Nelson gave the ball away and Cameron Brannagan played in Harris to fire into the top-right corner.

Derby put Oxford under pressure early in the second half but almost conceded again in the 64th minute when Browne set up Billy Bodin whose low shot brought a great save from Wildsmith.

Oxford’s pace and quick passing was rewarded in the 72nd minute when another slick move was converted by Harris low to Wildsmith’s left.

Derby responded in the 87th minute after Oxford failed to clear a long throw and Waghorn scored from 15 yards but it was not enough to save them from a second home League One defeat.

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