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DISAPPOINTING cup exits are nothing new for Derby County. Their recent history is littered with them and now one more has been added to a growing list.
to ask serious questions of a Blackburn side desperate for some consistency and stability.
They, like Derby, are a team in the lower half of the Championship but their squad and the quality dotted around their first 11 suggest Rovers should be doing much better.
Hendrick carried the fight but Hughes and Paul Coutts were out of sorts.
Surprisingly and a little worryingly, Derby were devoid of the characteristics that have helped them forge a reputation as being a force on their own patch.
There was an inescapable feeling from the early exchanges that it was not going to be their day and this was confirmed when they fell behind just before half time.
Blackburn's main threat to that point had come from Morten Gamst Pedersen's delivery at set pieces. Scott Dann headed inches wide from one and Adam Legzdins arched backwards to claw out a free kick that was destined for the top corner.
Once ahead, Blackburn blossomed.
Derby's line up did not look balanced from the start.
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Craig Bryson was on the left of a four man midfield and Jamie Ward, who naturally drifts to the left, was closer to striker Conor Sammon.
Derby County so tame as they make Cup exit and even boos are half
Derby born Kean came through the Rams Academy system before he was released in 2008. This was his first appearance at Pride Park and he has probably not had a quieter game since breaking into the Rovers team.
Coutts' dip means the effective link up with John Brayford on the right has been derailed and Bryson's niggling knee injury has not helped him in recent weeks.
But losing to Blackburn Rovers cannot be considered a shock.
Derby's one effort on target in the first half came in added time, when Jake Kean saved from Brayford.
This made Blackburn's passage relatively straightforward and left the Rams nursing a missed opportunity.
Derby are stuttering at the moment and much of their play in the first half foundered due to unforced errors and a lack of quality in the final third.
Their quality shone through and in the second half they were better than Derby in all departments and physically stronger in the 50 50 shoving matches.
There remains, however, a dilemma Nike Hyperlive Black And Gold when it comes to fitting in Bryson, Will Hughes and Jeff Hendrick in their favoured positions.
Their solid home form was supposed to provide an advantage and yet Blackburn, without the need Nike Hyperadapt 1.0
Ward, now on the left, tested Kean after the keeper's attempted clearance had been charged down by Sammon but a comeback never really looked on.
Missing was the spark, the energy and the drive.
Keogh, took the ball on and drilled an angled shot low past Legzdins, despite the goalkeeper getting a hand on the ball.
But when the goal came, it was down to a mistake by Rams skipper Richard Keogh.
Danny Murphy bossed midfield along with Pedersen. The pair had too much know how on the day, while Ruben Rochina, an early substitute, was lively just behind the powerful strike partnership of Kazim Richards and Jordan Rhodes.
Both laboured and such was the scarcity of meaningful action that the most ardent Derby fan could not complain if the tie had been last on during the TV highlights programme on Saturday night (it was actually third from last).
to find too many gears, were allowed to leave Pride Park with a 3 0 win, their feathers barely ruffled.
Derby huffed and puffed but in truth their response never convinced and fell well short of the level needed to turn the tie.
The scoreline suggests a comfortable victory for the visitors and, in the end, it was but for 44 dour minutes it looked like the names of both clubs would be in the hat for the fifth round draw.
There seemed little danger when Keogh moved in to tidy up a long punt forward. The defender should have dealt with the situation but dallied and Colin Kazim Richards muscled in. He shrugged off Hypershift Sole
One only has to think back to the League meeting between the two sides in October, when the Rams needed a late equaliser to snatch a point, having been second best for long periods.
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