Steve McClaren admitted his team’s play-off hopes have been dented after Nigel Clough’s Burton held Derby to a 0-0 draw at Pride Park.
Derby failed to win at home for the third consecutive game in 10 days as Burton’s determined defensive display earned them a precious point and a first clean sheet in 17 Sky Bet Championship matches.
Clough was returning for the first time since his sacking in September 2013 after four-and-a-half years as manager and his players did not let him down as they made it a night of frustration for the home side.
Despite Derby having virtually all the possession, they did little with it and had only one clear chance which Darren Bent squandered when he fired over from two yards in the 42nd minute.
Jacob Butterfield forced Jon McLaughlin to tip over a 20-yard drive at the start of the second half but the expected improvement did not materialise as Burton kept their discipline right to the end to move five points clear of the bottom three.
Derby are now 10 points adrift of the top six and when asked if only two points from three home games had been damaging, McClaren said: “Very, there’s no hiding that fact.
“We are very disappointed with two points from three games when our home form has been excellent. We talked about a target but we’ve not achieved that.
“It was a yellow brick wall of four and six but I can’t fault the players, we kept plugging away but it wasn’t our night.
“Burton came for a draw and got it and it’s been a frustrating night all round. Sometimes you can play for two days and not score and I think that was the situation tonight.
“When we came here we were fourth bottom and just dreaming of getting away and the players have done a marvellous job to go on a run, but I knew after the first three or four games this would be a frustrating season.”
Clough sent his number two Andy Garner to address the media and he admitted: “I think proud is a bit of an understatement, I think it’s incredible, we worked incredibly hard, we’re honest enough to say we came for a point and for us to get that at Derby is absolutely unbelievable.
“That’s what we are all about, honesty and hard work, we’re not particularly good at times and the players will tell you that as well but we dig deep and everybody works for each other.
“Nigel is in the dressing room, it’s quite an emotional day for the gaffer. We had four magnificent years here, love the club and the fans so it’s very emotional coming back for the first time and little Burton have taken four points off them so we’re delighted.
“We didn’t want to lose tonight, we set up for a point, worked all week training to get a point so I think it’s good management really because we are going home with a point.”