The change of formation didn’t work well offensively for me and once again for the umpteenth time this season we lacked real leadership out their on the pitch when things got difficult. Derby had some good young players on show but the visitors lacked lacked conviction and the will power to go and take the game to Rams on a quite chilly afternoon in the East Midlands.
The manager moved to a 4-3-3 formation with the intention of closing Derby down higher up the pitch. North End started the better and a well-worked corner saw Johnson hit a defender with a shot as early as the second minute.
We were getting some joy down the flanks but as usual the final ball was poor. Iversen made the first of several very good saves after 20 minutes as the home side started to assert themselves on a lack lustre visitors.
Lawrence had a header that went just wide but was then brought down by Lindsay and the referee had no hesitation in sending Lindsay off for a professional foul. No changes for North End at half time and it looked as though it was going to be an uphill struggle in the second half with 10 against 11.
Iversen mad an excellent save with his foot early in the second half but with 10 minutes gone in the second period, both sides were down to 10 men when Bird was given a red card for a horrible looking high tackle on Ben Whiteman.
I thought this would galvanise North End and a game that might have been lost was suddenly looking like it was one that could be won.
However, the decisive moment came 10 minutes from time when North End had several chances to clear a corner away and despite Daniel Iversen's heroics, Ravel Morrison was there to fire the ball into the net and give Derby all three points.
So a fourth league defeat in 18 games for Ryan Lowe and a second consecutive one on the road with a poor performance thrown in.
Derby were neat and quick and tidy but this was a game North End should have taken something from. I know we have had three games on the road and of the seven remaining games five of them are at home but North End were poor at Derby.
There is plenty of the season left and some big games to come but North End are going to have to produce much better displays than this. The biggest game of the season is almost upon us and Tuesday evening will see the manager involved in his first derby against the old enemy.