Callum Ball's late strike saw Derby County edge out Coventry City to claim a fourth consecutive Championship win.

The Sky Blues had the better of a lacklustre first half, Gary McSheffrey having an early shot parried and also blazing another effort over.

Jamie Ward twice tested City keeper Joe Murphy but the Rams improved after the interval and Ball, Paul Green and Jason Shackell all went close.

And Ball's 12-yard shot, after good work by Craig Bryson, earned victory.

Ball's third goal of the season was enough to defeat the league's bottom club, who remain the only team of all 92 in England's top four divisions still to win away this season.

But, while the hosts move up to seventh in the table on the back of a fifth win in a row in all competitions, they were second best in the first period.

Rams keeper Frank Fielding did well to keep out McSheffrey's effort and the striker then fired the ball over the bar when well placed just inside the area.

Carl Baker also headed into the side netting while the Rams offered very little.

But Derby were a different side after the break, Ball, Green and Shackell bringing the best out of Murphy, while the lively Ward fizzed a 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide.

Baker and Gary Deegan did shoot wide from distance for the visitors.

But Nigel Clough's Rams were looking the much more likely to break the deadlock and Ball struck the winner into the bottom corner after being teed up by Bryson.

VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

Derby coach Andy Garner: "We were delighted to come in at half-time (on level terms.) We were struggling a bit, a couple of months ago we might have come in losing 1-0."

"We had to grind it out today but the pleasing thing is that if we have to roll up our sleeves, then we will do that."

Coventry manager Andy Thorn: "I didn't think there was anything between the teams and we acquitted ourselves well but I think it's evident we need someone who can put the ball in the net.

"If we had that killer instinct in front of goal we would be in the top 10."

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (3)

Derby

  • 01 Fielding
  • 02 Brayford
  • 03 Roberts
  • 05 Barker
  • 06 Shackell
  • 04 Bryson
  • 16 Bailey
  • 32 Green
  • 10 Ward
  • 21 Robinson
  • 25 Ball (Buxton - 90' )

Substitutes

  • 13 Legzdins
  • 17 Buxton
  • 18 B Davies
  • 23 Hendrick
  • 28 Bennett

Coventry

  • 01 Murphy
  • 02 Keogh Booked
  • 06 McPake (Clarke - 73' )
  • 15 Cranie
  • 31 Christie
  • 04 Clingan
  • 08 Baker
  • 12 Deegan Booked
  • 32 Thomas
  • 11 McSheffrey
  • 22 Platt (Eastwood - 79' )

Substitutes

  • 13 Dunn
  • 26 Clarke
  • 07 Bell
  • 34 Bigirimana
  • 10 Eastwood
Ref: East
Att: 24,126

Match Stats

Shots

18 8

On target

12 3

Corners

10 4

Fouls

7 13

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +3:23 Full time

Full Time The referee ends the match.

90:00 +1:58

The ball is crossed by John Brayford, Richard Keogh makes a clearance.

89:32 Substitution

Substitution Callum Ball goes off and Jake Buxton comes on.

86:56

Corner taken short by Sammy Clingan. Centre by Sammy Clingan, Jason Shackell makes a clearance.

85:07

Jamie Ward takes the direct free kick.

85:07 Booking

Booking The referee shows Richard Keogh a yellow card.

84:56

Free kick awarded for a foul by Richard Keogh on Theo Robinson.

83:01

Cyrus Christie produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide left of the goal.

82:43

The ball is crossed by John Brayford, save made by Joe Murphy.

82:20

Free kick awarded for a foul by Carl Baker on Paul Green. Paul Green restarts play with the free kick.

78:49 Substitution

Substitution Freddy Eastwood is brought on as a substitute for Clive Platt.

76:51

Gary Deegan challenges Paul Green unfairly and gives away a free kick. The ball is crossed by Paul Green, Callum Ball has a headed effort at goal from just inside the penalty area that misses to the left of the target.

76:29

Jamie Ward concedes a free kick for a foul on Cyrus Christie. Cyrus Christie takes the free kick.

74:57

Assist by Craig Bryson.

74:57 Goal scored

Goal! - Callum Ball - Derby 1 - 0 Coventry Callum Ball finds the net with a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Derby 1-0 Coventry.

72:42

The ball is delivered by Carl Baker, Gary McSheffrey takes a shot. Save by Frank Fielding. Outswinging corner taken by Sammy Clingan from the right by-line.

72:42 Substitution

Substitution (Coventry) makes a substitution, with Jordan Clarke coming on for James McPake.

72:42

Unfair challenge on Gary McSheffrey by James Bailey results in a free kick.

70:21

Callum Ball gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James McPake. Joe Murphy restarts play with the free kick. The offside flag is raised against Gary McSheffrey. Frank Fielding takes the indirect free kick.

67:42

Theo Robinson produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that goes over the bar.

67:03

Cyrus Christie gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jamie Ward. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Jamie Ward from left wing, clearance made by Richard Keogh.

66:08

Gary McSheffrey is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Frank Fielding takes the indirect free kick.

64:40

Foul by James McPake on Theo Robinson, free kick awarded. Jamie Ward fires a strike on goal direct from the free kick.

63:19

Free kick awarded for a foul by Craig Bryson on James McPake. Direct free kick taken by Sammy Clingan.

60:02

Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Jamie Ward from the right by-line, clearance by Sammy Clingan.

59:29

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Jamie Ward from the left by-line, Richard Keogh makes a clearance.

58:49

Gary McSheffrey is adjudged to have handled the ball. Free kick taken by Gareth Roberts.

54:38

The ball is sent over by Jamie Ward, Paul Green takes a shot. Joe Murphy makes a save.

54:07

Craig Bryson fouled by Carl Baker, the ref awards a free kick. John Brayford takes the direct free kick.

53:23

Shot from outside the penalty box by Gary Deegan goes wide right of the goal.

52:43

The ball is crossed by Jamie Ward, Close range header by Callum Ball goes over the bar.

51:55

Carl Baker crosses the ball.

50:42

Jamie Ward delivers the ball.

50:03

Corner taken by Jamie Ward from the right by-line, save by Joe Murphy.

49:30

Callum Ball sends in a cross, James McPake gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken by Jamie Ward from the right by-line, clearance by James McPake.

47:55

Shot from outside the box by Carl Baker goes wide right of the target.

46:41

Paul Green takes a shot. Blocked by Richard Keogh. Effort from the edge of the area by Callum Ball goes wide of the right-hand post. Corner taken by Jamie Ward from the right by-line, Jason Shackell takes a shot. Save made by Joe Murphy.

46:18

The ball is crossed by Cyrus Christie, Jason Shackell manages to make a clearance.

45:01

The second half has started.

45:00 +2:43 Half time

Half Time The match has reached half-time.

45:00 +2:28

The official flags Clive Platt offside. Frank Fielding restarts play with the free kick.

45:00 +1:06

Callum Ball takes a shot. Blocked by James McPake.

45:00 +0:44

Gareth Roberts delivers the ball, James McPake makes a clearance.

43:54

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gary Deegan by Callum Ball. Richard Keogh restarts play with the free kick.

42:12

John Brayford delivers the ball.

40:54

The ball is swung over by Cyrus Christie, Carl Baker has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide of the left-hand upright.

38:20

Craig Bryson takes a shot. Blocked by Sammy Clingan.

38:04

Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Jamie Ward, Martin Cranie makes a clearance.

37:22

Direct free kick taken by John Brayford.

37:22 Booking

Booking Gary Deegan is shown a yellow card.

37:13

Free kick awarded for a foul by Gary Deegan on John Brayford.

35:44

Corner taken by Jamie Ward, Shaun Barker takes a shot. James McPake gets a block in. Callum Ball has an effort at goal from close range which goes wide of the left-hand upright.

35:23

Craig Bryson fouled by Carl Baker, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Gareth Roberts.

33:42

Shaun Barker gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gary McSheffrey. Sammy Clingan takes the direct free kick.

32:35

Corner taken right-footed by Jamie Ward, clearance made by Clive Platt.

31:53

Gary McSheffrey concedes a free kick for a foul on Jason Shackell. Jason Shackell restarts play with the free kick.

29:16

The ball is swung over by Paul Green, Martin Cranie gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Jamie Ward. Theo Robinson takes a shot. Joe Murphy gets a block in. Jamie Ward takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Martin Cranie.

27:50

The referee blows for offside against Carl Baker. Frank Fielding takes the indirect free kick.

27:01

Corner taken by Sammy Clingan from the left by-line, clearance made by Craig Bryson.

26:23

Centre by Paul Green, Callum Ball takes a shot. Blocked by James McPake.

25:21

Cyrus Christie sends in a cross, save made by Frank Fielding.

24:24

Jamie Ward takes a shot. Joe Murphy makes a save.

23:23

Effort on goal by Gary McSheffrey from just inside the area clears the crossbar.

20:21

James McPake gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Callum Ball. Jason Shackell takes the free kick.

19:49

Jamie Ward takes a shot. Joe Murphy makes a save.

19:40

The ball is crossed by Paul Green, save by Joe Murphy.

19:20

Jamie Ward takes a shot. Blocked by James McPake.

19:13

The ball is sent over by John Brayford, clearance by Richard Keogh.

17:57

Jamie Ward delivers the ball, Richard Keogh makes a clearance.

17:08

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Richard Keogh by Paul Green. Martin Cranie takes the direct free kick.

15:57

The ball is swung over by Paul Green, clearance by Richard Keogh.

14:28

The ball is sent over by Gary McSheffrey, blocked by Jason Shackell. Inswinging corner taken by Sammy Clingan.

13:22

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jason Shackell by Gary McSheffrey. Direct free kick taken by Jason Shackell.

12:18

Gary McSheffrey challenges Jason Shackell unfairly and gives away a free kick. Frank Fielding takes the direct free kick.

6:46

Unfair challenge on Theo Robinson by Richard Keogh results in a free kick. John Brayford takes the free kick.

6:26

Gary McSheffrey takes a shot. Save made by Frank Fielding.

5:42

Cyrus Christie sends in a cross, clearance made by Shaun Barker.

1:36

The offside flag is raised against Theo Robinson. Joe Murphy takes the indirect free kick.

0:49

Gary McSheffrey takes a shot. Save made by Joe Murphy.

0:00

The referee gets the game underway.

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