Max Bird and Curtis Davies’s strikes scrape a desperate three points for Derby against Stoke City


Derby 2-1 Stoke City: Max Bird and Curtis Davies’s strikes scrape a desperate three points for Rams amid administration peril and 12-POINT deduction which makes them favourites for relegation

  • Derby scored twice in three minutes to take the lead at the end of the first half
  • Tom Ince clawed one back for the visitors eight minutes after the restart
  • The game follows news that Derby County have gone into administration
  • The Rams are now heading for an automatic 12-point deduction as a result


With 10 minutes remaining of the first half, it was just about possible to forget that Derby County is a club in crisis. They had just scored twice in three minutes against Stoke City, Wayne Rooney was beaming, the home supporters were bouncing and the sun was shining.

Yet when the pure joy that football can bring subsides, Derby’s players, staff, their other employees and their fans would have experienced the same cold, lonely feeling they felt on Friday night, when they heard the news. 

Derby are heading for administration, which means much more than the 12-point deduction that makes them favourites for relegation.

Derby County put their off-field issues to one side as they defeated Stoke City 2-1  

Max Bird opens the scoring with Derby County's first goal against Stoke City on Saturday

Max Bird opens the scoring with Derby County’s first goal against Stoke City on Saturday

Derby's fans will suffer the most from the administration and blame the board for the peril

Derby’s fans will suffer the most from the administration and blame the board for the peril

Jobs will be lost. Those owed money by the club may not receive all of it. Families will worry. People’s mental and physical health will suffer. For a time, the weekend routine – meeting friends, talking about the game, recalling memorable matches – will not seem quite as enjoyable.

‘It doesn’t make a difference to them,’ says 81-year-old Brian Smith, who has been following Derby home and away for 55 years. 

He is gesturing towards a display on the side of the stadium, featuring an image of Brian Clough, but his anger is intended for others – owner Mel Morris and the board of directors, who he blames for Derby’s financial peril. ‘As always, it is the fans who suffer. This is the worst situation I have known in all my time supporting the club.’

‘I am worried we will end up in League Two,’ adds Keith Beighton, 49. ‘If we took all our punishment this season and started the next one in League One, with a clean slate and new ownership, I would settle for that.

Wayne Rooney has revealed he found out the club were going into administration on TV

Wayne Rooney has revealed he found out the club were going into administration on TV

‘But my worry is that we’ll be punished again by the EFL next season.’

Beighton echoes the fears of a number of fans – that the 12-point hit will not be the only one Derby take. They were already in dispute with the EFL over historic breaches of spending rules, with a further nine-point deduction possible. A two-year transfer embargo is also on the horizon, which would inevitably affect the positions of the club’s scouting and recruitment staff.

The impact is felt everywhere. There were suggestions of an emergency meeting of the club’s Safety Advisory Group on the morning of this match, which could have put the fixture in doubt. 

On the walkways outside Pride Park, burger van owners suspected the club’s desperate need for cash would see their annual rent go up.

Derby could face further sanctions by the EFL over a dispute in regards to spending rules

Derby could face further sanctions by the EFL over a dispute in regards to spending rules

The parking spaces of Morris and chief executive Stephen Pearce were still unoccupied less than an hour before kick-off.

Rooney’s black 4×4 was there, however, and England’s record goalscorer was in fighting mood again prior to kick-off. 

Rooney’s team-talk clearly worked as Derby were sharp from the off and Max Bird put them ahead with a glorious strike from 25 yards just after half an hour. 

Three minutes later Stoke goalkeeper Josef Bursik and defender Ben Wilmot got in a muddle and Curtis Davies outjumped both to head Derby into a 2-0 lead. Rooney was wearing a broad smile.

Tom Lawrence's (centre) goalbound shot was blocked before Max Bird put Derby ahead

Tom Lawrence’s (centre) goalbound shot was blocked before Max Bird put Derby ahead

In stoppage time the Derby boss unleashed a restorative blast at the fourth official

In stoppage time the Derby boss unleashed a restorative blast at the fourth official 

Ravel Morrison guided the ball wide of an empty net from five yards before Tom Ince swept in at the near post for Stoke.

In the closing minutes the visitors were denied a penalty when Sam Clucas was sent tumbling and Derby held on for their first home success of the campaign. Rooney swapped handshakes with his coaches and Stoke boss Michael O’Neill.  

Derby got away with one there – but they will need much more than a dodgy penalty call to go their way if they are to escape this mess. ‘The Rams are staying up!’ yelled the home supporters. It will take something quite remarkable to prove them right. 

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