Kazim-Richards' thunderbolt earns Derby three points
Derby County claimed a crucial win in their battle at the foot of the table as they overcame Middlesbrough 2-1 at Pride Park on Saturday.
The result was the Rams' fourth win in five games and lifted them three points clear of the relegation zone as Wayne Rooney continued to instil a battling quality to his side - this win a good response to the disappointing defeat at Rotherham ten days previously.
After a shaky start from the Rams, Andre Wisdom broke forward six minutes in but saw his long range strike dragged wide with the hosts’ first notable attack.
But 14 minutes in the hosts were in front with a goal straight from the training ground. Middlesbrough had no clue how to mark Derby’s unusual formation at a corner, and Martyn Waghorn’s delivery found Lee Buchanan at the back post whose header across goal was in turn nodded home by Lee Gregory on his full debut.
Gregory was then close to a second nine minutes later when he flicked Nathan Byrne’s header just wide of the post, before Boro’s first effort of note saw Sam Morsy also fire wide with a 30-yarder.
The second Rams goal then came just after the half-hour mark and it was a stunner. Waghorn found Gregory on the edge of the penalty area and his knock back found Colin Kazim-Richards who hit a ferocious first time strike from 25 yards out which left Marcus Bettinelli with no chance in the Boro goal.
The visitors responded well, however, and pulled a goal back six minutes later when a ball into the penalty area broke to Fulham loanee Neeskens Kabano who slammed home from six yards out.
Half-time arrived with the lead still intact from the hosts and it took until 56 minutes for any serious threat of a third, Kazim-Richards looping a header over the bar from a Gregory cross.
Chances then became few and far between in a game devoid of much in the quality, the Rams having plenty of possession without being able to penetrate the Boro defence, with the visitors always a threat but likewise unable to test David Marshall in the Rams goal despite the concession of several set pieces in dangerous areas.
And the Rams would hold out thanks to some resolute defending to claim a crucial three points in the relegation battle.
Derby: Marshall ©, Wisdom, Shinnie, Jozwiak (Mengi 86), Waghorn, Byrne, Kazim-Richards, Clarke, Gregory (Bird 74), Buchanan, Knight.
Subs not used: Roos, Forsyth, Sibley, Roberts, Baningime, McDonald, Watson
Middlesbrough: Bettinelli, Dijksteel, Morsy (Fletcher 82), Assombalonga © (Akpom 59), Howson, McNair, Watmore (Mendez-Laing 65), Fisher, Kebano (Johnson 82), Saville (Hall 59), Bola
Subs not used: Archer, Spence, Coulson,