Goalscorer: Kenny Miller 39
Derby County: Stephen Bywater, Dean Leacock, Andy Griffin, Claude Davis, Tyrone Mears, Stephen Pearson, Matt Oakley, Eddie Lewis (Jay McEveley 87), Gary Teale, Kenny Miller (Benny Feilhaber 80), Steve Howard
Newcastle United: Steve Harper, David Rozenhal, Steven Taylor (Habib Beye 75), Claudio Cacapa, Geremi (Abdoulaye Faye 60), Charles N’Zogbia, Nicky Butt, Alan Smith, James Milner, Shola Ameobi, Michael Owen (Obafemi Martins 55)
Referee: Peter Walton, Attendance: 33,016
Derby County’s promotion to the Premier League for the 2007-2008 season was slightly unexpected and early results suggested this. The Rams’ had already lost 4-0 at Tottenham Hotspur, been beaten 6-0 by Liverpool FC and were due to face a rampant Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium days later. They were already propping up the division but were looking to get their first win of the season against inconsistent Newcastle United.
Newcastle began the evening as favourites to head back to Tyneside with all three points as Sam Allardyce began to settle down into his new management role. His side never really got going though and Derby started well. Roared on by a vocal crowd inside Pride Park, they put together some swift passing moves to start with but were let down by a casual approach inside the visitors’ penalty area. This was totally understandable considering they’d only scored three goals from their first five matches.
Newcastle produced the best moment of the opening 20 minutes. James Milner broke clear after a Derby corner broke down. He found Michael Owen, who rounded goalkeeper Stephen Bywater but made the angle too difficult to try his luck. The England forward held his nerve and crossed the ball instead to defender David Rozenhal, whose effort whistled wide of the post. Owen wouldn’t complete the first half. He went off with a tight groin muscle and as soon as he departed, the Magpies attacking threat diminished.
In truth, the game was largely forgettable. There was plenty of grit and spirit from both sides but the final ball and finish was very poor. However, Derby took their chance six minutes before half-time. Bywater’s clearance was allowed to bounce by Newcastle defenders. Kenny Miller seized his opportunity and struck a dipping effort that flew past Steve Harper and into the net.
Derby could have extended their lead after the interval. Steve Howard had two headed chances but couldn’t find the target with either effort. However, Newcastle’s threat was sporadic and the home side held on for a fantastic and worthy victory. Afterwards, manager Billy Davies said: “I’m delighted with the players and they can take a lot of confidence from this victory.”
Derby failed to win another match in the Premier League all season. Davies was sacked at the end of November and Paul Jewell had no chance whatsoever to rescue the sinking ship. The Rams’ leaked 89 goals; they scored only 20 and amassed a grand total of just 11 points. They remain the worst-ever team to have played in the Premier League.
Newcastle finished just seven points clear of the drop zone in 12th spot but did finish the campaign with fans’ favourite Kevin Keegan back in charge after Allardyce was dismissed in January 2008. This will always remain one of Newcastle’s most embarrassing results. They were the only side in the 2007-2008 Premier League season to be beaten by Derby County.