DERBY County’s mini unbeaten run came to an end at the KC Stadium last night as high-flying Hull City’s Egyptian contingent conspired to inflict a first defeat in four games.
After edging the first period against a team actively chasing automatic promotion, the Rams went behind when new signing Mohamed Gedo nodded home just after the break.
The Tigers then enjoyed the better of the second period, but Jamie Ward got Derby level with six minutes to go, only for Ahmed Elmohamady to put his side back in front three minutes later.
And Derby’s night went from bad to worse as Gareth Roberts was shown a straight red card in a frantic final five minutes.
It was one of a series of poor decisions by referee Robert Madley, but the visitors cannot wholly blame the referee, as they failed to maintain their early discipline and composure for the full 90 minutes.
Had they done that, and taken one of a couple of chances presented to them in the second half, they could have headed home with a valuable point that would have been dseserved on the balance of the whole game.
Nigel Clough made one change to the side that drew 2-2 with Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, and it was the expected one, as with Mark O’Brien not being risked at all and Jake Buxton only deemed fit enough for the bench, John Brayford shuffled over to centre-half, and Kieron Freeman filled in at right-back.
For much of the first half, this felt like a game between two away sides, with Hull rarely causing Derby any real problems.
In the ninth minute, great work by Ward saw him hold the ball up and lay off to Paul Coutts, who played a lobbed through pass to Conor Sammon.
The newly-capped Republic of Ireland striker made the best of an awkward chance, but his shot did not trouble City’s on-loan Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale.
Ward then had a good chance himself when he latched onto a loose ball and almost had a clear run at goal, but for a last-gasp tackle by Jack Hobbs.
Five minutes later, Craig Bryson received the ball on the left and cut inside before letting fly with his right foot a shot that Stockdale watched sail over his crossbar.
Hull finally had their first effort in the 24th minute but it was not one for Adam Legzdins to be too troubled by as David Meyler shot high and wide.
Jeff Hendrick then worked the ball into a crossing position in the right channel but his whipped ball in was too far ahead of Ward.
Hull were beginning to dethaw on a chilly night on Humberside, and Elmohamady got down the right and crossed into the area, where Robert Koren’s header went wide.
A good passing move - the best of the game so far, then should have brought a goal, but Hendrick’s shot from just outside the area was deflected off target.
The referee seemed determined to liven proceedings up on behalf of the players and made a flurry of bookings just before half-time, including one to Coutts for kicking the ball away, even though the Rams midfielder genuinely seemed to think the ball was still in play.
As the game entered first-half injury-time, Hull had their best chance of the half as another ball in from Elmohamady found the relatively unmarked head of Meyler, but he nodded wide.
Hull boss Steve Bruce was clearly as unhappy with his side’s attacking intent as the fans, and brought off both strikers at half-time, replacing them with lofty German striker Nick Proschwitz and home debutant Gedo.
And the latter made an instant impact as Robbie Brady burst free of his marker down the left wing and delivered an excellent cross that Gedo nodded past Legzdins all too easily.
It was Hull’s first shot on target of the game, and Gedo’s first touch, but the newcomer almost made it 2-0 moments later as the two Egyptians combined, with Elmohamady crossing and Gedo firing over.
Meyler then went even closer as Derby failed to close down the lanky midfielder, who unleashed a shot from the edge of the D that thundered off Legzdins’ right-hand post.
Ward then tried his luck from a similar distance seconds later, forcing Stockdale into his first save of the evening as he palmed the shot away.
Derby then had a glorious chance to level matters, with Sammon left wondering how he did not score after taking down Ward’s cross-field pass but finding only the crossbar from eight yards out.
The front pair combined again minutes later when Ward hit a volley from distance and Sammon deflected it just wide.
However, the Rams never gave up, and in the 84th minute, got their reward as Bryson swung over a dangerous cross from the left that was missed by the Hull defence but not by Ward, who fired in at the far post.
But the travelling fans were only singing for three minutes before Elmohamady broke their hearts, scrambling in Brady’s corner despite Derby having a man on the line.
And things got worse for Derby shortly after as Roberts was shown a straight red card for an alledged dangerous tackle on Proschwitz, although it initially appeared that the full-back was the one who had been fouled.