Wayne Rooney picked up his first win as permanent Derby County manager as they lifted themselves out of the Championship relegation zone with victory over a stuttering Bournemouth.
Krystian Bielik scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half when he swept a shot in from the edge of a crowded six-yard box.
Defeat for Bournemouth saw them lose further ground on the top two, but they almost found an equaliser late on as Kelle Roos made a superb one-handed save from Lloyd Kelly’s header and Jack Stacey flashed a shot narrowly past the post.
Former Arsenal and West Ham midfielder Jack Wilshere was sent on as a substitute for Jason Tindall’s side, who have taken just one point from the past three matches, while Derby move three points clear of the bottom three.
Derby match-winner Bielik recovered from a cut above his eye earlier in the first half before netting the Rams’ first goal in four matches.
He required lengthy treatment after an accidental collision with Jefferson Lerma before he helped the hosts capitalise on their best spell of the game.
The Polish defensive midfielder almost doubled their lead in the second half when he had another goalbound shot blocked in the area by Steve Cook, while centre-back Matt Clarke saw a header cleared off the line by Lewis Cook from Nathan Byrne’s corner.
Bournemouth have now missed three chances to close the gap on second-placed Swansea in the past seven days after a home draw against Millwall and defeat by Luton on Saturday.
Leading scorer Dominic Solanke missed a glorious early chance from Stacey’s low cross when he failed to make a telling contact from just six yards out.
Wilshere began his second spell at the club when he replaced David Brooks in the 78th minute.
Moments after the England international’s introduction, Kelly was denied by Roos’ fantastic save with his outstretched left-hand after Steve Cook had nodded a corner back across goal.
That and Stacey’s shot from just outside the box proved to be the last real threats to Derby’s lead as they hung on for a first home win in three league games.
Derby County manager Wayne Rooney told BBC Radio Derby:
“It was an excellent win. I felt tonight was a high-pressure game for the lads and it’s been a difficult couple of weeks for everyone involved at the club.
“I wanted a reaction, I demanded a reaction from the players tonight and that’s exactly what they’ve given me.
“The attitude – that’s what we need every game, every week- that desire. If we do that, we’re a hard team to beat but if we don’t, you can see what can happen like on Saturday (defeat by Rotherham).
“If we stick to our game plan and work hard, we have got a chance against any team in this league.”
On players still awaiting their full December wages and the protracted club takeover: “It’s a difficult situation for everyone.
“The quicker this is sorted out the better. First of all, it’s important for the players to get their full salary and secondly, that allows me to move into the transfer window and get some players in.
“As soon as I know anything (about the takeover), I’ll let the fans know as I think it’s important they do know what’s happening.
“But I’m still waiting for a deal to happen and I’ll stress again, the sooner that happens, the better it is for this club.”
Bournemouth manager Jason Tindall told BBC Radio Solent:
“First half I didn’t think we did enough, we didn’t ask enough questions and Derby made it very difficult for us in the way they set up.
“In the second half, we were better but without creating too many clear-cut opportunities.
“We can’t afford to waste a half like we did with the first half and I’m disappointed with the goal we conceded from a set piece.
“We certainly need to improve in front of goal and we know teams are putting more bodies behind the ball and being more direct.
“But it’s up to us to try and break teams down with the ability we’ve got and it’s up to us to put that right.”
- 7JozwiakSubstituted forMacDonaldat 82′minutes
- 38KnightSubstituted forMitchell-Lawsonat 90+2′minutes
17Stacey8Lerma16L Cook15A Smith
- 18Carter-VickersSubstituted forMephamat 45′minutes
- 3S Cook
- 16L CookBooked at 71mins
- 15A SmithSubstituted forKingat 45′minutes
- 7BrooksSubstituted forWilshereat 78′minutes
- 10Danjuma GroeneveldSubstituted forSurridgeat 63′minutes
- Oliver Langford
Match ends, Derby County 1, Bournemouth 0.
Second Half ends, Derby County 1, Bournemouth 0.
Foul by Jefferson Lerma (Bournemouth).
Kornell MacDonald (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Derby County. Jayden Mitchell-Lawson replaces Jason Knight.
Offside, Bournemouth. Lloyd Kelly tries a through ball, but Chris Mepham is caught offside.
Steve Cook (Bournemouth) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Colin Kazim-Richards (Derby County).
Foul by Jack Wilshere (Bournemouth).
Krystian Bielik (Derby County) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt missed. Jack Stacey (Bournemouth) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.
Attempt blocked. Jefferson Lerma (Bournemouth) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Corner, Bournemouth. Conceded by Andre Wisdom.
Substitution, Derby County. Kornell MacDonald replaces Kamil Jozwiak.
Attempt saved. Lloyd Kelly (Bournemouth) header from very close range is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Steve Cook with a headed pass.
Corner, Bournemouth. Conceded by Andre Wisdom.
Substitution, Bournemouth. Jack Wilshere replaces David Brooks.
Steve Cook (Bournemouth) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Kamil Jozwiak (Derby County).
Foul by Steve Cook (Bournemouth).