Tuesday, March 29, 2011

29 March 2008 - A New Low For Derby County

On 29 March 2008, a 2-2 draw with Fulham guaranteed Derby County's relegation--the earliest such guarantee in the history of the Premier League.

Derby had earned promotion to the Premier League the year before under new manager Billy Davies, who had joined the club in June 2006. But they struggled in the top flight, winning only one match all season (a 1-0 victory over Newcastle on 17 September). They dropped into last place in the fourth week, then rose to 19th before getting pinned to the bottom again in the eleventh week and staying there for the remainder of the season. Billy Davies left the club in November, replaced by Paul Jewell.

They entered the match against Fulham with only 10 points, 17 points shy of safety. With only seven games left, Derby needed a win to preserve any hope of survival. And Fulham were ideal opponents, as they were in the relegation zone themselves, only one spot above Derby.

Derby struck first with a 10th-minute goal from Emanuel Villa, but the visiting Cottagers claimed the lead after a header from Diomansy Kamara (24') and an own-goal from Derby's Dean Leacock (78'). Villa salvaged a point for Derby with a late goal in the 80th minute, but it was too little to save their season. They were 19 points from safety with only six matches remaining, thus ensuring their drop from the top flight. It is the earliest in the season that any team has been mathematically relegated, breaking the previous record set by Sunderland on 12 April 2003.

And it was Derby's last point of the season. They lost all of their remaining games to finish with 11 points, the lowest points total since Stoke City finished with 17 in 1985 and a record low since the league went to three points for a win.

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