The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Daniel Freed­man

MUR­PHY’S Law states that any­thing that can go wrong, will go wrong – and af­ter his com­i­cal own goal con­demned Derby to de­feat at Wolves, keeper Lee Grant be­lieves that adage aptly de­scribes the Rams’ cur­rent plight.

Derby topped the Cham­pi­onship ta­ble as re­cently as Fe­bru­ary 28 but a six-game win­less run since has left their au­to­matic pro­mo­tion hopes in tat­ters and even a top-six fin­ish now seems far from se­cure.

Af­ter a first half at Molineux which saw Tom Ince hit the cross­bar and Wolves goal­keeper To­masz Kuszczak pull off a num­ber of fine saves, it was the hosts, through Nouha Dicko, who struck first af­ter the break.

And with just over 20 min­utes re­main­ing, Grant’s aber­ra­tion put the game be­yond doubt.When it rains, it pours.

Craig Forsyth sliced his clear­ance straight up in the air caus­ing the Rams keeper to panic and in­ex­pli­ca­bly punch the spin­ning ball into his own net.

And the 32-year-old for­mer Burn­ley and Sh­effield Wed­nes­day stop­per ad­mit­ted there was no ex­cuse he dare of­fer for his costly mis­take.

“It was a ba­sic er­ror, re­ally. It’s a ball you deal with 99 times out of 100,” he ex­plained.

“Yes, it’s a dif­fi­cult ball that’s hang­ing in the air but, for me, it’s a ball that I would con­sis­tently deal with and en­joy deal­ing with.

“It ended up spin­ning off the back of my gloves and go­ing in the net. As a se­nior player, you pride your­self on not mak­ing those er­rors but, un­for­tu­nately, I’ve made one.

“Things aren’t drop­ping for us and what we have to do is cre­ate our own luck, we have to work hard, try and be con­sis­tent and, for large parts, we have done that.”

In truth, Derby should have been ahead by half-time but were re­pelled by a com­bi­na­tion of the wood­work and in­spired goal­keep­ing.

Ince curled an ef­fort inches too high and Kuszczak made ful­l­length saves to deny Jesse Lin­gard and Craig Bryson.

For­mer Eng­land striker Dar­ren Bent also went down on the edge of the box un­der the chal­lenge of Danny Batth, who ap­peared to be the last man, but ref­eree Keith Stroud ruled a free-kick was suf­fi­cient pun­ish­ment.

And the game turned just three min­utes into the sec­ond pe­riod – Forsyth giv­ing the ball away to Kevin McDon­ald who fed Dicko and the Malian striker fired past Grant with the help of a slight de­flec­tion for his 11th goal of the sea­son.

To their credit, the Rams re­sponded, forc­ing Kuszczak into fur­ther saves from Lin­gard and Bryson while at the other end, Benik Afobe clipped the bar.

Then, on 69 min­utes, Grant’s rush of blood to the head ended the game as a con­test, with the vis­i­tors never likely to over­turn a two-goal deficit.

Steve McClaren’s troops reg­is­tered 19 shots in all but af­ter fail­ing to con­vert any,Wolves are now just two points be­hind their op­po­nents.

How­ever, manager Kenny Jack­ett in­sists the Rams are still a team his own pro­mo­tion hope­fuls are keen to em­u­late.

“I like the way Derby play and have got a great deal of re­spect for the job Steve McClaren has done,” said Jack­ett.

“They play a style of foot­ball that could be suc­cess­ful in the Pre­mier League.

“Af­ter beat­ing us 5-0 ear­lier in the sea­son, it looked like there was a chasm be­tween us, but to now be only two points be­hind them is an ex­cel­lent achieve­ment.

“If you are look­ing at the last two sea­sons I think Derby have been a bit of a bench­mark for the Cham­pi­onship.

“We need to keep im­prov­ing and look at clubs like Derby, who we are try­ing to match.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

BLUN­DER: Derby County keeper Lee Grant puts the ball in his own net for the clincher

HERE WE GO: Nouha Dicko cel­e­brates the opener

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