Hopes of Premier League football at Pride Park next season were crushed on the banks of the Thames
Derby County’s hopes of securing a return to the Premier League are over after being beaten 2-0 by Fulham, with boss Gary Rowett admitting the Cottagers handled the occasion with greater composure.
Carrying a 1-0 lead to the capital courtesy of Cameron Jerome’s winner on Friday in the Championship play-off first leg at Pride Park, the Rams went into the break with that advantage still intact.
No doubt with Rowett’s words of encouragement still ringing in their ears, Derby’s lead was eroded just two minutes into the second half when highly-rated teenager Ryan Sessegnon did what he’d been doing all season, and rifled an effort into the roof of Scott Carson’s net.
Defender Denis Odoi stooped to head in their second and decisive goal in the 66th minute to cap a deserved, dominant victory for Slavisa Jokanovic’s men, one which left the Rams chief frustrated.
“Having looked at the goals, they were two very poor goals for us to give away,” he said.
“We didn’t make those mistakes in the first leg.
“Our composure let us down tonight, when we had a chance to pass the ball we didn’t pass it well enough.
“We made far too many mistakes on the ball – we looked a little bit edgy if I am honest.
“Fulham handled the leg much better than us, in terms of their composure and ability to move the ball round and be patient.
“We’ve tried everything, we’ve had a go, we’re disappointed. Sometimes you’ve got to handle that disappointment and move on.
“Three out of the four teams are going to be disappointed at the end of these play-offs and unfortunately we’re the first ones.
The Cottagers must now wait to find out who their opponents at Wembley will be, with Aston Villa holding a 1-0 advantage ahead of their second leg with Middlesbrough at Villa Park on Tuesday night.