Promotion-chasing Fulham travel to improving Derby for Friday night football from the Championship. Mark O'Haire analyses the odds...
Derby v Fulham Friday February 21, 19:45 Sky Sports
Derby bemoan individual errors
Derby boss Phillip Cocu questioned the focus of young Rams defender Jayden Bogle after a frustrating 1-1 home draw with Huddersfield last weekend. Tom Lawrence fired County ahead with a brilliant strike in the second half only for Harry Toffolo to equalise nine minutes from time at Pride Park with Bogle's weak defensive header to blame.
The 19-year-old had been left out of the team following below-par displays in the defeat at Bristol City and a 3-2 victory against Swansea and made the unfortunate contribution only minutes after coming off the bench. Speaking post-match, a frustrated Cocu described Bogle's efforts as "basic" before questioning his character and mindset after being dropped.
The equalising goal denied Derby a sixth successive home success, as well as a first place in the Championship top-half in almost three months. Goalkeeper Kelle Roos was handed his first start in the league since November and could keep his place for the fixture with Fulham on Friday but County are sweating on the fitness of Duane Holmes and Andre Wisdom.
Fulham suffer shock reverse
Fulham head coach Scott Parker said, "I am shocked, I am bitterly disappointed, I am gutted. I didn't see it coming" after watching his Cottagers crew fall to a deserved 3-0 home defeat to rock-bottom Barnsley last Saturday. The Whites' chief apologies to supporters for the wretched display that lacked penetration in possession and organisation in defence.
Fulham went into the game level with second-placed Leeds but were second best in all departments with goalkeeper Marek Rodak enduring a nightmare display. The result sees the Cottagers lose ground on the automatic promotion places with the race for a top-six finish now seeing the Whites sit only three points better off than seventh-placed Bristol City.
Parker admitted, "There are no excuses. We were beaten by a better side, a side that had more intensity. We didn't deserve anything out of the game." The Cottagers chief will be without on-loan defender Terence Kongolo for the remainder of the season through injury but Aboubakar Kamara could be recalled following his positive impact from the bench.
Rams underrated at Pride Park
Fulham have enjoyed the upper hand in recent meetings with Derby, collecting three wins and a solitary defeat in six showdowns since the start of 2017/18, including an impressive 3-0 victory at Craven Cottage back in November. However, the Rams hold a strong W8-D3-L2 supremacy in head-to-heads as hosts, a run of results that dates way back to 1954.
Derby2.96 have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes since Christmas, suffering only two defeats in 13 across all competitions (W7-D4-L2). But the Rams have accrued just seven points from a possible 15 (W2-D1-L2) in Championship action as sloppy defensive errors have hindered progress. Even so, County boast the division's best joint-home record (W9-D6-L2) and deserve respect as outsiders at Pride Park.
Fulham2.54 have taken top honours just twice in seven trips to top-half teams this term (W2-D3-L2) and the Cottagers have struck more than a solitary goal only four times across their overall 16 away days since relegation. The Whites are well capable of competing with the Championship's elite under Scott Parker's tutorship, although the visitors do appear vulnerable favourites on Friday.
Four of the past five regular season match-ups between Derby and Fulham have produced Over 2.5 Goals (1.85) but there's enough reason to believe their latest encounter may struggle to repeat such high-scoring expectations. Five of the Cottagers' past six games as guests fell below the standard goals line with four such contests featuring Under 1.5 Goals.
The visitors have delivered Under 2.5 Goals (1.85) in 11 (69%) of 16 road trips with matches averaging an unadventurous 2.06 per-game on their travels. With Pride Park fixtures averaging 2.12 goals with 12/17 (71%) games seeing a maximum of two strikes, it makes sense to oppose goals whilst keeping the Rams onside.
Heading to the Same Game Multi market via Betfair Sportsbook, Derby Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals can be backed at a generous 2.10. Here, we have the 0-0, 1-1 draws, as well as the 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 and 2-1 correct scores to support in County's favour.