Football – England – Championship
Friday 1st March 2013 – Kickoff: 1945hrs
Mid-table Derby County take on fourth placed Crystal Palace at Pride Park on Friday night with both of these teams being a little more evenly matched than the Championship league table first suggests.
Looking at Derby County first, and despite having not won in their last five matches, The Rams have drawn three of their last five with two defeats both away from home at Hull City 1-2 and Watford 1-2, but they now return to the relative safety of Pride Park where they’ve been solid and hard to break down on home soil. Five matches unbeaten or just one loss from their last thirteen league matches at home is going close to ‘fortress’ standards, and visitors Crystal Palace will struggle to take all the points here tonight I feel.
Derby’s overall home record stands at 8-7-2 34/18 and they’ve kept four clean sheets but manager Nigel Clough will be particularly impressed with his side’s ability to score goals this season and at home they’ve drawn a blank just twice in 17 home matches.
Onto Crystal Palace then, and The Eagles have enjoyed a much better season so far this term under the guidance of new manager Ian Holloway who replaced Dougie Freedman roughly halfway through the season. A run of four matches unbeaten recently came to an abrupt end away at Sheffield Wednesday where they lost 0-1 last weekend, but recent wins over Charlton Athletic, Middlesbrough and Bristol City have kept them in the hunt for an automatic promotion place.
Bear in mind though that these three wins were all at Selhurst Park and they now go out of their comfort zone with a trip to the east midlands beckoning. The picture doesn’t look quite so rosy as Palace have failed to win any of their last nine away matches, managing just draws at Hull City, Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest and Watford taking their points tally to just four from the last 27 on offer on the road.
Unsurprisingly, Crystal Palace’s away record isn’t that hot with stats of 5-5-7 19/23 and they’ve failed to score in three of their last four along with keeping just three clean sheets on their travels all season.
Derby’s solid home record should earn them at least a point here tonight against a Crystal Palace side struggling for away points, and the hosts could even nick this one perhaps by a 1-0 scoreline. Take the round ball on Derby though for insurance at odds close to evens.
Pick: Derby County AH0 (Draw No Bet) @ 1.95 bet365