Derby assistant manager Richie Barker was delighted with the way the Rams executed their game plan in Tuesday night’s 3-0 League One victory at Exeter to boost their promotion hopes.

The home side saw more of the ball – they enjoyed 70 per cent possession – but the ruthless Rams were clinical with their chances and won the game with goals from Max Bird, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Tom Barkhuizen.

“I am pleased for our fans, given the long journey and to take something back is pleasing,” Barker said. “It is nice to get the clean sheet and it doesn’t do the goal difference any harm either.

“We were patient out of possession and I am sure – if you look at the stats – it will look like they have dominated the game.

“They are obviously a very good technical side and very well coached. We came with a plan to ensure we only pressed certain passes and we did it really well.

“There is a lot of work that goes on to ensure we give them the correct information. No two games are the same and we will have a totally different game on Saturday than tonight.

“We have to make sure the players are best prepared we we can. That is why we do the work we do and sometimes you have to sacrifice your principles in terms of letting certain teams have it and pressing certain passes.

“The lads took the information on really well.”

Exeter manager Gary Caldwell rued the mistakes that led to Derby’s goals and said: “I think they punished us for every mistake we made.

“In those big moments, against the big teams, we have to be more ruthless when we lose the ball.

“We have to foul and we have to penetrate the (defensive) line more. I thought we played well in two thirds of the pitch.
They sat back and allowed us to have the ball.

“We have to recognise that having the ball is not enough and we have to penetrate and we have to create better moments from having the ball.

“I think it is a lesson that we have to take. I don’t think it’s a disaster to lose to a team that is second in the league, but there are definitely moments where we can improve and we have to learn that very quickly.

“I thought we played well in possession in two thirds of the pitch, but we could have created more.

“There are details within the game that I feel we can improve. There are details that we did very well and the biggest lesson for me is that against these teams with physicality, speed, power and quality, they punish you for any mistake you make and we have to take that on the chin.”

Reading manager Ruben Selles felt his side deserved the victory as they defeated promotion-chasing Derby 1-0 in League One.

The win came off the back of news that the Berkshire side were given a suspended three-point deduction for the abandonment of their recent game against Port Vale due to a pitch invasion.

A second-half goal from Paul Mukairu proved the difference in a game that closes the survival gap to four points.

While Selles was unsurprised with the decision of the EFL, he preferred to focus on his side.

He said “We are very happy with the performance of the team and the boys. They responded really well and got three points towards our target. We need to continue like we did today.

“We still need to improve, sometimes in that final third especially we miss the last pass.

“One was enough today but we could have closed the game if we found that final pass better.

“If you see previous cases from the EFL, the statement and punishment they put out today was in line with the other clubs – we knew that was going to come.

“The fans made their point last time, and they made their point today that they were supportive on the pitch. What we saw today was a team playing well.”

Reading had the first opportunity on 16 minutes when captain Andy Yiadom turned in the box but saw his shot come off the post and into the arms of keeper Josh Vickers.

The home side went ahead nine minutes after the interval. Femi Azeez found the woodwork – the third time in the match the ball had hit the post – but the rebound fell into the path of Mukairu who slotted home for his fifth goal of the season.

Reading were clearly growing in confidence after going ahead, although they perhaps should have been pegged back on 64 minutes when Tyreece John-Jules directed a header wide.

That was as good as it got for Derby, who disappointed in their chance to go top, leaving manager Paul Warne frustrated at the lacklustre display.

He said “Disappointed, we had a good opportunity to get to the top of the league.

“I thought we got outfought and outrun. We didn’t win enough second balls and if you can’t play the way you want to play you have to roll your sleeves up.

“We got caught too many times in the middle of the pitch, and I don’t think we did enough in the final third to win the game.

“Maybe I should have freshened the side up a bit more, but we have got a really talented team.

“To go top, I would expect more from my team and the dressing room expects more as well.”

Reading gave their League One survival chances a boost with a 1-0 victory at home to promotion-chasing Derby.

The hosts, who were given a suspended three-point deduction for the abandonment of their Port Vale fixture, had the first chance after 16 minutes. Andy Yiadom turned and shot in the box but saw his effort come off the post and into the arms of goalkeeper Josh Vickers.

Sam Smith flicked a header from a corner just over, while Derby almost took the lead with six minutes of the half remaining, as a Conor Hourihane strike hit the upright.

Reading took the lead nine minutes in the second half. A Femi Azeez shot found the post, but the ball fell kindly to Paul Mukairu, who finished with precision.

The goal gave the hosts confidence, although Tyreece John-Jules should have done better with a header – 64 minutes in – after putting it wide.

Derby struggled to make much headway on the Reading goal after going behind and the Berkshire side held on for a vital three points.

Paul Warne wants his Derby team to be “braver” despite closing in on the top two with a 3-1 win over Lincoln.

Derby’s head coach brought on Kane Wilson for the second half and he scored and set up the third goal which sealed a sixth win in seven games.

Conor Hourihane gave Derby a 26th-minute lead with a drive from just inside the area after Lincoln failed to clear a Joe Ward cross.

But Ward gave away a penalty in stoppage time when he tripped Paudie O’Connor and Danny Mandroiu confidently put away the spot kick.

Wilson replaced Ward and he restored Derby’s lead in the 65th minute with a looping header from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s cross.

Wilson then delivered a precise pass in the 77th minute that sent James Collins through to score with a low shot inside Lukas Jensen’s far post.

Derby are now one point behind second placed Peterborough but Warne said: “We didn’t do enough with the ball first half, we didn’t play with enough personality, we weren’t brave  enough.

“I would like us to play with a bit more personality. I just feel we have another gear and I just think we have to keep trying to get better.

“I was disappointed with how we started the game and I appreciate the opposition make it difficult but it still didn’t feel like we had the purpose I think we need to have in our play to go up as champions potentially.

“I want to get in the top two, I want the lads to want to get in the top two and they give me everything at times but tonight I didn’t think we were brave enough. You have to be positive with your decisions and I thought we were just a bit too safe.”

Lincoln head coach Michael Skubala said: “Disappointed by the outcome. We did well to get in at half-time at one all and I thought we started the second half brightly.

“But you can’t come away to places like this and concede on a set-piece. You work so hard, then concede on a set piece and then it’s always going to be a difficult place to try and push.

“I felt like at times we had moments where we could have been better with the final pass and in transition when we won it back we needed to be a bit tidier. We carried a little bit of a threat tonight but we still need to do better.

“It’s a tough place to come, they have experienced players and we’ve got to grow up in moments as a team but disappointed at the outcome.”

Kane Wilson came off the bench to inspire Derby to a 3-1 win over Lincoln that lifts them to third in Sky Bet League One.

Lincoln started brightly but the first chance fell to the Rams in the 16th minute when Tom Barkhuizen crossed and Max Bird’s shot deflected behind off a defender.

But there was no stopping Conor Hourihane’s drive from just inside the area in the 26th minute which flew into the top-left corner after Lincoln failed to clear a Joe Ward cross.

Derby almost scored again five minutes before half-time through Craig Forsyth who fired inches past the right-hand post but Ward gave away a penalty in stoppage time when he tripped Paudie O’Connor and Danny Mandroiu converted.

Ward was subbed for Wilson at half-time and he restored Derby’s lead in the 65th minute with a looping header from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s cross.

Wilson then turned provider in the 77th minute with a precise pass that sent James Collins through to score with a low cross-shot.

Paul Warne blamed poor decision making for the late penalty which denied his Derby team victory against Wycombe.

The Derby head coach saw Tom Barkhuizen’s late goal cancelled out in the sixth minute of stoppage time by a Luke Leahy penalty.

Wycombe had set out to frustrate Derby from the start and their tactics worked for much of the game which was refereed by Rebecca Welch, who next Saturday will become the first woman to take charge of a Premier League game.

She was busy in the opening 30 minutes, booking five players, as the game degenerated into a scrappy contest with few moments of quality.

The first real chance did not arrive until the 64th minute when Eiran Cashin met a Max Bird corner with a powerful header that brought a superb save on the line from Max Stryjek.

Derby thought they had secured a sixth straight League One victory when Barkhuizen scored from close range after Stryjek could only parry a low shot from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.

But Wycombe hit back with what proved to be the last act of the game when David Wheeler went down under Joe Ward’s challenge and Leahy held his nerve to beat Joe Wildsmith.

Warne said: “That was tough to take. Our first-half performance we didn’t deserve any more than we got. I was disappointed with how we played, we had no ball speed, we didn’t have any assertiveness in the game.

“We had a bit more purpose second half and possibly did enough to win it. We weren’t at our best today and if you can win when you’re not at your best then great but there was a catastrophe of errors in the last 30 seconds which cost us two points.

“With five minutes to go we are still trying to cross the ball and get a second goal when you can just keep it, just win throw-ins and let the clock burn out. I just thought that for an experienced team we made some poor decisions late on.”

Wycombe manager Matt Bloomfield summed up his feelings at avoiding what would have been a fifth straight defeat when he said: “Just elation I think.

“The effort the boys put into the performance today, the application and the quality we showed at times to come away from home in a big stadium against a hugely historic club, I’m so proud of the boys for the discipline they put in.

“We changed shape and the boys have worked diligently all week so it would have been a travesty if we hadn’t got anything from the game for the discipline they showed.

“These lads are a group of special people and they showed tremendous character.”

Paul Warne could not contain his delight after watching his Derby side complete a comfortable 3-0 League One win at 10-man Leyton Orient, their first victory at Brisbane Road since the 1964-65 season.

The Rams had gone ahead in the first half with a sublime strike from Louie Sibley before Orient defender Brandon Cooper was sent off for elbowing James Collins.

After the interval, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and substitute Tom Barkhuizen netted one apiece to earn the visitors their fifth-successive league win as they moved up a spot to fifth.

“Obviously I’m very pleased,” Warne said. “We’re in it to win games of course and it’s good to see the lads in good fettle.

“They are good friends on and off the pitch and I think the team plays better when you have that in the dressing room. We have real confidence and you need that to win games and I thought we were handsome for the win.

“It was a really good day at the office. We could have played better in parts of the game but it’s all about winning so when you come away from home and keep a clean sheet and win then I don’t think you can have too many complaints as a manager.

“I liked the fact we won the game, scored three goals and created lots of chances.

“Our third one was a counter-attack from their corner and I enjoyed seeing six of my players running like the wind to get on the end of it. We were pretty solid and energetic but to be successful we need to be striving to the next level.

Orient coach Matt Harrold reflected: “I thought that we started the game great and things happened in the first 10 minutes which we worked on in training where we were on the front foot and everything was OK.

“But then they score a goal – probably against the run of play – and at the minute things are going against us and so it’s kind of where we are at the moment.

“Last week we were poor at Chesterfield but I thought we put on a good performance today but we’re giving ourselves a mountain to climb by conceding a goal and then losing a player to a red card which has a big bearing on the result.

“At two-nil down, we score one but have it ruled out for offside and then Derby score a third where we just not good enough and it’s those details against good teams where we have to be much, much better.”

Harrold had no complaints about the dismissal of Cooper.

“At the time I wasn’t sure as my view was the other side but having watched our red card again, I don’t think we can have any complaints and it doesn’t look good on the video,” he admitted.

Port Vale boss Andy Crosby urged his squad to stick together after their 1-0 defeat to in-form Derby.

Arsenal loanee Tyreese John-Jules came off the bench and scored with his first touch as the Rams made it four wins on the spin.

For Vale it’s an 11th league game without a win, a run which stretches back to mid-September.

And Crosby said: “It was a game of fine margins. They take advantage of a blocked clearance and it falls perfectly for their wide player, he executes an inch-perfect cross and the forward scores a good finish.

“We walk away being defeated 1-0. I thought we had better spells with the ball.

“The game kicks you doesn’t it. You have to fight and stick together during this difficult period.

“The dressing room and the whole football club. We don’t let the cracks appear because when that happens it just continues.

“We have to look after each other, boost each other and give each other confidence and belief.

“When you have senior players like I have in there and the management staff I have, we know how the players are feeling.

“They crawl off the pitch at the end of the game when you’ve been beaten 1-0 by one of the bigger clubs in the league.

“We’ve pushed them, but unfortunately come off the wrong side of the result.”

Rams’ first-team coach Matt Hamshaw stepped in for Paul Warne’s media duties.

And he said: “It’s a great feeling. It’s a difficult place to come to so to win 1-0 and a clean sheet, we’re really pleased.

“JJ wrote his own script by scoring with his first touch. He’s been disappointed with injuries since coming in so a huge shout out to the medical team for getting him right.

“It was a huge squad effort. It was a really good night. A huge thanks to the fans who stuck with us all season.

“It’s tough for players when they get injured, but I don’t feel that sorry for him, he’s had a good career already being at Arsenal!

“It’s brutal as a player when you’re not playing. You just want to be part of the team. But you feel out of it, no matter what the gaffer does.

“I’m just really pleased for him. He’s a great lad, let’s hope he stays fit because he’s a huge asset for us.”

Crewe head coach Lee Bell said his side’s 3-1 FA Cup first round replay win at Derby has capped off one of the proudest times of his career.

Bell saw his high-flying League Two side go behind early but hit back to outplay their League One opponents and deservedly book a home tie against Bristol Rovers.

Derby had scored two late goals at Crewe to set up a replay at Pride Park and it looked good for the hosts when Tom Barkhuizen scored in the fourth minute.

But Aaron Rowe’s brace turned the game around before Mickey Demetriou headed in to seal Crewe a fifth win in their last seven matches in all competitions.

Bell said: “It’s a really brilliant night for the football club. I’m proud to be part of it and I’m so proud of the players.

“I thought it was right that they won the game, I thought the game plan was spot on and they executed it brilliantly, which is credit to them.

“I’ve said to the players that these last couple of weeks with the performances are probably the proudest time I’ve had in football, to be around these lads and the staff, so we are going to enjoy tonight.

“It is some achievement but I keep saying we’ve got good players at the club and it’s a really proud night. We’ve scored five goals against Derby in two games.”

Derby head coach Paul Warne felt his side lacked urgency in their play as they suffered an early exit from the competition.

“I just don’t think we had any ball speed in our game tonight, we had loads of the ball but we didn’t move it quick enough,” he said.

“When we had opportunities to go forward and get at them we took the easier option and went backwards.

“It looked like they had more in them, that’s probably the nicest way to put it.

“We had plenty of opportunities to get a second goal but tonight we looked a little bit toothless.

“We looked a little bit leggy, I think it’s fair to say, and too many of the players weren’t on song, we didn’t have enough top performers to win a game.

“We didn’t have enough good performances to beat a well-organised, well-drilled, well-coached team in Crewe and congratulations to them, I thought they were very good.”

League Two Crewe came from behind to beat Derby 3-1 in their FA Cup first round replay at Pride Park.

Tom Barkhuizen gave Derby the lead but Crewe hit back through an Aaron Rowe double and a Mickey Demetriou header to deservedly go through.

Derby, who had scored twice late on to force a replay in the original tie, took the lead in the fourth minute when Lewis Billington lost out to Louie Sibley and he set up Barkhuizen to score from 12 yards.

But Crewe responded three minutes later through Rowe who fired a powerful 20-yard drive into the bottom right corner.

Rowe struck again in the 21st minute with a shot which took a big deflection to beat Joe Wildsmith, who had saved from Courtney Baker-Richardson seven minutes later.

Crewe goalkeeper Harvey Davies saved a James Collins header and tipped a Max Bird drive against the crossbar but the visitors were the better side and they scored again in the 65th minute.

Derby’s defence fell asleep at a corner and Demetriou headed past Wildsmith to book a second round home tie against Bristol Rovers.

Derby head coach Paul Warne described the 3-0 home win over Barnsley as “a boost for the dressing room.”

Barnsley came into the game unbeaten on the road this season but that run was ended by a James Collins brace and a Craig Forsyth goal.

The game was reasonably even up to the 35th minute when Jordan Williams pushed over Collins in the box and the striker got up to tuck away the penalty.

Derby rammed home that advantage in the second half when they twice caught Barnsley out with long free-kicks from goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith.

On both occasions, Forsyth got in behind Barnsley on the left when the ball was flicked on, firing low past Ben Killip in the 48th minute and then forcing the goalkeeper into an acrobatic save in the 63rd before Collins chested in the rebound.

Barnsley had a chance to get back in it but John McAtee fired wide after Devante Cole’s pass set him up in the 52nd minute.

Warne said: “I thought the first half was really tight, I didn’t think either team was really in the ascendancy and it felt like one of those games that was going to come down to small margins.

“Massive credit to the players, they were excellent today. It’s about the dressing room, the lads feel good about it.

“I’ve been saying all week I thought they were going to win, not from an arrogant point of view but I just felt it, I could see the lads in training taking the information on.

“It’s a boost for the dressing room obviously and the lads back themselves when they are at their best and today they were and we could have competed against anyone.”

Barnsley slipped to sixth in League One, now level on points with Derby.

Head coach Neill Collins said: “Up until the third goal, I didn’t think there was anything in the game.

“We were behind to the penalty at half-time which I thought was more than recoverable but the second and third goals, to lose goals to direct play and you’re 3-0 down.

“I thought there was nothing between the teams, there wasn’t really clear-cut chances for either team, it was a good tight game but then it quickly unfolded because we didn’t deal with direct play.

“We have dealt with that type of play and we’ve kept a lot of clean sheets but you’re coming up against a better calibre of opposition today and we just didn’t deal with it and that was the one aspect which was really frustrating.

“At times, had we shown a little more devilment and intensity it could have been there for us in the first 60 minutes but we didn’t.”

Derby ended Barnsley’s unbeaten away run in League One as James Collins scored twice in a 3-0 win.

Collins fired in a first-half penalty and struck again after Craig Forsyth scored to condemn Barnsley to their first defeat on the road this season.

Derby started strongly with Nathaniel Mendez-Laing causing problems on the left although Joe Wildsmith had to turn behind an Adam Phillips free-kick in the 21st minute.

But Derby went ahead in the 35th minute when Jordan Williams pushed over Collins to concede a penalty which the striker confidently converted.

Derby were worth their lead and they extended it in the 48th minute with Forsyth ghosting in to score with a low finish after a long free-kick was flicked on.

A repeat of that move brought Derby a third in the 63rd minute with Forsyth again getting in on the left to fire in a shot which Ben Killip saved but Collins bundled in the rebound.

Tom Barkhuizen fired over and Louie Sibley rattled the bar as Derby enjoyed a comprehensive victory.

Derby assistant head coach Richie Barker admitted he still had frustrations despite his side’s 4-0 demolition of Northampton.

Barker thought the margin of victory should have been even bigger after Derby bounced back in style from defeat to Stevenage to blow Northampton away.

He said: “I’m pleased with the result but more so with the performance, the goals were excellent.

“My biggest frustration, if I’m being honest, is that it wasn’t more. It was a good opportunity for us to send out a real message but it’s about reaction and the ability to put things behind them 48 hours later and get on with it.

“Our reaction to losing the ball was excellent, we have to do the right things. People come here to watch goals, but you have to get the ball back to do that.

“Northampton ended up playing three different formations in the first half, which shows we created issues for them.

“People have gone away from here tonight saying we have the right work ethic. I was proud of them as a group of players. At the weekend we didn’t compete physically but here we gained in confidence.”

Max Bird scored his first goal of the season in the 14th minute, steering in a cross from Conor Washington who then burst between two defenders to add a second in the 22nd minute.

Bird bagged his second 10 minutes later when he converted Conor Hourihane’s clever pass and although Northampton made three changes at the break, they were opened up again in the 49th minute with Nathaniel Mendez-Laing dispatching Tom Barkhuizen’s cross.

Barkhuizen and James Collins missed good chances to add to Northampton’s misery but the result was still Derby’s biggest win of the season.

Northampton manager Jon Brady said: “They are an incredible team, they moved the ball brilliantly well with great rotations.

“We talked defensively about the way we had to move with the speed of the ball but when you have players who aren’t moving at the speed of the ball and leaving big gaps, it was plain to see in the first 15 minutes we weren’t at the races really.

“They were probably on a night at their best and we need to have every single player at 12 out of 10 to even have a chance of competing and our levels weren’t anywhere near that.

“We had little spells but we couldn’t get anywhere near their goal. Not being disrespectful to our players but they are a high-class team in the way they played and unfortunately we were below our standards to even try and get anything out of the game.”

Paul Warne understands why Derby supporters voiced their frustrations towards the end of his side’s 3-1 defeat at Stevenage.

Boro fully deserved to record a first win in four league games which lifted them up to sixth in the Sky Bet League table.

Derby, though, are so far not living up to their pre-season expectations, with a second straight away defeat hard to take for many of the travelling fans who made their feelings towards Warne clear.

“The fans who came aren’t happy; they’re not happy with me, they’re not happy with the football, they’re not happy with everything, and I understand that,” Warne said.

“We are not in this league to come to Stevenage and lose or underperform, and it is a disappointing day for everyone involved at the football club.

“We just weren’t good enough to beat Stevenage, who I didn’t underestimate, but just in moments we weren’t strong enough.

“If I am truly honest, I have never had to manage a group where your own fans give it to you and I appreciate their frustrations.

“We’ve been honest with the lads there, saying what we think, and we will have to try and bounce back Tuesday (against Northampton) and put a performance on.

“What is obvious for anyone who knows anything about football is we have got a soft underbelly.”

Jordan Roberts gave Stevenage the lead with a thumping strike after a free-kick was teed up for him in the 32nd minute, but that was soon cancelled out by Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s neat finish.

Alex MacDonald then put the Boro ahead from a free-kick right at the end of the first half, which beat Derby goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith for pace.

Boro then secured victory with six minutes left when Kane Hemmings opened his account from Luther James-Wildin’s ball across goal.

Stevenage boss Steve Evans said: “We fully respected and acknowledged how good the opposition were.

“They are, in my opinion, the biggest team in League One and arguably if they’re in the Championship you could be saying the same.

“We knew we had to match them in every area and I think we’ve done that and more today.

“We should have won by more, but we don’t fail to recognise that for Stevenage to beat Derby County in a league fixture is for the whole town really.

“It is tremendous for us and I don’t really have a thought towards Derby other than that they are a terrific side.

“It is more hand-to-mouth here and we have to find a way to compete at the level we have come up into.”

Paul Warne was delighted for striker James Collins after he scored his 200th goal in club football during Derby’s 2-0 win over Carlisle.

The Republic of Ireland international’s brilliant brace secured the Rams their first win at Carlisle since 1957.

Collins’ milestone came with a fine instinctive first-half finish before the 32-year-old wrapped up the points at Brunton Park with an emphatic late penalty.

Warne, who has a quartet of strikers to keep happy at Pride Park, said: “We always try and pick a team to win and I thought the team would win with Collo in it.

“Starting him paid off. He was really good. He led the line really well.

“You need a physical presence up there when other players aren’t having their best game, and I thought Collo was the standout.

“I’m really pleased for him. He lives right, trains right. He’s the best version of himself. I’d have loved him 10 years ago!

“He’s a great guy and the lads love him in the dressing room so they’re really pleased he’s got a brace. It’s a nice day for him.

“Every player thinks they should play every minute of every game.

“It’s not easy, I have to have disappointing conversations and disappoint people, but that’s my job.

“I’m pretty pleased. I didn’t think we were amazing, but this is League One. You come away and you have to be resilient.

“We’ve felt sorry for ourselves in recent weeks. Great teams dig in when they need to and I think we defended well.”

Carlisle had their chances and on another day could have got something out of the game.

Jordan Gibson’s strike slipped through Joe Wildsmith’s fingers but only hit the crossbar before Luke Plange’s effort came back off a post.

Carlisle boss Paul Simpson said: “You look at the players they’re bringing on and they’re really effective players.

“I always felt we looked like we’d get something out of it and the disappointing thing is that we didn’t show that in the second half.

“What we have to do is take that belief from what we did in the first half and get the momentum back from the last three games and that first half.

“We didn’t do enough second half and didn’t build on that momentum we had in the first half.

“They showed their experience, their nous and in the end it was a fairly comfortable second half for them.

“I was disappointed. I thought we were in it first half and deserved to be level at half-time.

“We created opportunities and caused them problems. We didn’t have that little bit of luck with Jordan Gibson’s shot and Luke Plange’s shot against the post.”

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