Bristol Rovers and in particular striker Nathan Ellington showed Derby County how football should be played.
The team from the lower reaches of the 3rd division out fought and outplayed the Rams for vast periods of the game and thoroughly deserved to go into the draw for the 4th round of the FA Cup.
The 20-year-old has only recently come back from injury but he showed that he was already on top form.
Mart Poom was called into action again by Ellington in the 35th minute of the first half this time Poom making a superb stop and turning the ball round the post for a corner.
Derby had a rare meaningful attack in the 40th minute culminating in a header from Benito Carboni. The ball finishing up on top of the Bristol net.
Carboni was arguably the Rams most effective player in the match and it is ironic that this may well be his last match for the club as his loan spell will be over shortly.
Rover's now two goals up and their army of around 8000 fans went wild. Even they dared not dream of going in at half time leading by two goals.
Todd did not change anything at half time and it was Rovers that came out looking to still take the game to Derby.
In the 50th minute Todd decided to gamble and threw on Lee Morris for his first game four months, his
The game was dead and buried as far as Derby County where concerned after 61 minutes. Yes! it was that man again Nathan Ellington who completed a memorable hatrick against his now deflated Premiership opposition.
Bristol Rovers now decided to yield space in the midfield area and hold on to what they had. Derby for the first time in the match looked like they where at home and two divisions above the visitors.
Fabrizio Ravanelli hit the Rovers bar in the 82nd minute as the Rams pushed forward.
It was Ravanelli who claimed what little praise there was for a goal in the 87th minute. His header meeting little cheers from the now rapidly disappearing home crowd.
Into injury time and Derby came close to a second goal as Benito Carboni fires wide of the Bristol Rovers goal. What would that have done to Rovers if it had have gone in? yet the final word belonged, fittingly, to the Pirates. Mark Walters had a shot that cannoned off Mart Pooms post and rolled along the goal line but failed to go in.
A sad day for Derby County and the question has to be asked, "Where do we go from here". It can no longer be said that performances like this are a one off, or a flash in the pan. Things have to change around Pride Park; the fans are sick and tired of the constant flannel that is handed out by manager, Chairman and players.
The Rams are no longer good enough to be among the elite of British soccer…
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