Nigel Clough returns to haunt former employers Derby as Burton beat neighbours
Nigel Clough returned to haunt his former employers as Burton secured a 1-0 Sky Bet Championship win over Derby in the first competitive meeting between the two sides.
Clough spent four seasons at the iPro Stadium before being sacked in 2013, and his new side were excellent value for three points against their more illustrious neighbours from 10 miles down the road.
Australia international Jackson Irvine scored for the third league game running and his early strike proved enough for the Brewers in front of a lively crowd of 6,746 at the Pirelli Stadium.
Both teams made wholesale changes from their midweek EFL Cup fixtures, although showed only one from their last league outing.
Burton replaced injured skipper John Mousinho with John Brayford, while Derby brought in Marcus Olsson at left-back after Craig Forsyth suffered a serious knee injury during the goalless draw against Aston Villa.
Burton made the brighter start and they nearly went ahead after six minutes when Chris O'Grady won the ball in a dangerous area and found Lloyd Dyer, whose effort was well stopped by Scott Carson.
A minute later the lively Lucas Akins broke down the right only to fire his shot high and wide.
However, the pressure told 12 minutes in when Akins beat Olsson and picked out Irvine, who nodded home Burton's fifth headed goal of the season from close range.
Derby were wasteful in possession and when they eventually carved out a chance after 20 minutes Johnny Russell lost his footing at the crucial moment after a neat one-two with Chris Martin on the edge of the box.
A tidy Derby move six minutes later ended with Jacob Butterfield firing straight at Jon McLaughlin, but the hosts remained a threat on the break as Tom Naylor won the ball in midfield and set Dyer and O'Grady clear only for the attack to fizzle out.
Derby's best chance of the opening period came three minutes before the break when Tom Ince broke down the right and picked out Martin, but his shot was charged down.
Abdoul Camara replaced Ince at half-time and just three minutes after the interval he had an effort blocked by ex-Derby defender Brayford.
Two minutes later Guinea international Camara cut in from the right and saw his deflected effort clawed out by McLaughlin.
Derby introduced Darren Bent and Manchester United loanee James Wilson in a bid to up their pedestrian first-half tempo, and McLaughlin had to be alert to parry away Craig Bryson's dangerous cross-shot.
Camara shot straight at McLaughlin from the edge of the box, but Burton's tremendous work rate restricted the visitors to half-chances. Hughes' hopeful 30-yarder, which sailed well over the bar with three minutes left, summed up their evening.
Akins found substitute Marcus Harness with another dangerous cross in the final minute but he failed to add a gloss to the scoreline.