The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Paul Brown

STEVE BRUCE was left to re­flect on Hull’s worst de­fen­sive dis­play of the sea­son af­ter two Ja­cob But­ter­field goals saw Derby re­place them at the top of the Cham­pi­onship on Fri­day night.

With­out in­jured cap­tain Michael Daw­son and the sus­pended An­drew Robertson, Bruce was forced to reshuf­fle his de­fence and de­ployed Moses Odubajo in an un­fa­mil­iar role at left-back.

Ma­raud­ing Rams right-back Cyrus Christie and winger Tom Ince – fac­ing his for­mer club – took ad­van­tage as the visi­tors reg­u­larly threat­ened on the break.

That was af­ter a pair of first-half goals from But­ter­field af­forded Derby a strong plat­form and Hull boss Bruce ad­mit­ted the dam­age was done early on in the evening.

“In the first 20-25 min­utes we’ve prob­a­bly made more mis­takes de­fen­sively than we have all sea­son and I think that was the dif­fer­ence,” he said.

“We’ve made big er­rors, given the ball away cheaply and I have to take re­spon­si­bil­ity too with the way I set us up to start with. Maybe it was too many changes with the ab­sen­tees that we’ve had.

“Ob­vi­ously it didn’t work and you have to ad­mit that when you get beaten. I got it wrong, es­pe­cially in the first 25 min­utes.

“We’ve had a good run and con­grat­u­la­tions to Derby, who are eas­ily the best team we have seen here. They are the ones, at the mo­ment, that we have got to beat.

“They caught us on the coun­ter­at­tack nu­mer­ous times and we needed to take one of those chances to give our­selves a lift but it wasn’t our night.”

Derby caused plenty of early prob­lems, with Christie thwarted by a de­fen­sive block and Ge­orge Thorne de­nied by Al­lan McGre­gor in­side the open­ing ten min­utes.

They were ahead af­ter 18, though, when Andreas Weimann saw a shot blocked and But­ter­field – who be­gan the day with two league goals to his name all sea­son – cap­i­talised to fire home from 12 yards.The 25-year-old dou­bled both his tally and Derby’s ad­van­tage shortly af­ter the half-hour mark when Christie’s cross was half cleared to But­ter­field, who volleyed be­yond McGre­gor.

Hull mus­tered a re­sponse be­fore the break and Scott Car­son was forced to keep out both Tom Hud­dle­stone and Abel Her­nan­dez, while Shaun Maloney carved out an open­ing only to shoot wide in the sec­ond-half.

But there was no way back for the hosts, who took a 12-match un­beaten run on home soil into the clash, as Sam Clu­cas fired over the top from close range.

Ince could have made it three late on, curl­ing wide of McGre­gor’s post, but Derby man­ager Paul Cle­ment could af­ford to be pleased with an ef­fi­cient dis­play that saw them move to the Cham­pi­onship sum­mit for the first time this sea­son.

“We’ve come to a place that did have the best de­fen­sive record and scored twice against them, but also man­aged to keep a clean sheet against a very po­tent at­tack­ing side,” said Cle­ment.

“The goals came at really good mo­ments and that gave us that cush­ion and that abil­ity to then make sure we were de­fend­ing very re­siliently and pick­ing them off on coun­ters.

“Our best foot­ball was in the first-half but over­all the de­fend­ing of the team was ex­cel­lent.We were in shape nearly all the time, making it dif­fi­cult for them to break us down.

“We would like to have more of the ball than the op­po­si­tion but we have come to a very good side and some of their quick pass­ing cre­ated some good chances.We didn’t have it all our own way and we had to really grind it out at times.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

DOU­BLE TROU­BLE: Ja­cob But­ter­field scores his sec­ond goal for Derby

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