Phillip Cocu suffered his first defeat, as defensive errors cost his side in their 2-1 to a travelling Bristol City.
Jack Marriott’s late super-strike wasn’t enough to salvage a point, as Andreas Weimann and Josh Brownhill’s first-half goals secured all three points for the Robins.
Cocu made two changes from the draw against Stoke, introducing Krystian Bielik and Mason Bennett for George Evans and Florian Josefzoon.
Despite the changes, the Rams continued to struggle with balls over the top and it only took Bristol City 16 minutes to capitalise on it.
Derby failed to clear their lines from a direct ball that Benik Afobe latched onto. The striker combined with Kasey Palmer to keep a move alive for Weimann. The former Derby wide-man punished the hosts, with his shot beating Kelle Roos and Matt Clarke, who were helpless to stopping it on the line.
Cocu’s side did show some attacking intent quickly after, as Tom Huddlestone’s long ball found Bennett but the forward’s chance was deflected over the bar for a corner.
The two sides looked evenly matched, the key difference being that Bristol City had a goal to their advantage. The Rams looked to dominate from the back, but most moves broke down in the final third whilst Bristol City defended well in a good shape that made them dangerous when pressing and in transition.
The rest of the action for the half came in the final five minutes. Bennett, looking dangerous with good width on the right, whipped in a tempting ball for Lawrence at the back post. The Welshman managed to get a shot off, but it wasn’t enough to beat David Bentley in the Bristol City goal.
Then came a killer blow for the Rams. Scott Malone, who struggled to play progressive passes all half, hesitated on the ball. Hunt closed down the left-back well before delivering a ball that Brownhill finished well to double the visitors’ lead.
Half-time changes were made as Malone made way for Josefzoon, the same change made at Stoke at the interval, and the Rams changed to a three at the back. The visitor’s decided to match the formation, shutting Derby out for large periods of the half.
That was until Jack Marriott gave the Rams a lifeline five minutes from time. The forward made a neat move with Josefzoon on the right before cutting inside and walloping a shot into the top left corner, leaving Bentley helpless to reach it.
Derby continued to press for an equaliser, but a lack of penetration in the final third mixed with isolated defensive errors were the killer blows in a frustrating night at Pride Park.
Derby County: Roos; Lowe, Keogh (C), Clarke (Knight, 79), Malone (Jozefzoon, 45); Bielik, Huddlestone; Bennett (Marriott, 68), Dowell, Lawrence; Waghorn