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Derby defeat

No-one could argue that on the balance of play over the course of the game that we deserved a point, but having hauled ourselves back into the game on three seperate occasions, it is galling to say the least to come away empty handed and the sense of frustration will definitely take time to subside.

Much has already been written about the amount of injury time that was played, and yes it did appear excessive, but to play devils advocate a little here, it did also allow ourselves the opportunity to grab a winner. Looking again at the injury time that was played - perhaps due to our relief at equalising on the stroke of ninety minutes - we looked like we were frantically playing out time whilst United went hunting for the win. Serious questions must also be asked as to quite who was supposed to be marking Michael Owen when the ball was played into the box for the winning goal.

Hughes must have preached to the side to keep their concentration and not concede an early goal, yet this is precisely what we did as we fell behind barely two minutes into the game. Despite getting on level terms following a mistake by Ben Foster - defensive lapses being a common theme throughout the game - throughout the first half we more often than not appeared to be on the back foot with us allowing United too much possession and time on the ball (something I warned about).

The second half began little better than the first as we once again fell behind early to a Darren Fletcher header, yet once again hit back through Craig Bellamy (the best Derby strike since Brightwell?).

Following Bellamy's equaliser to make it 2-2, we really were dominated for long spells and realistically could have condeded before Fletcher put United 3-2 ahead - of which there hasn't been much mention of the fact Evra went down very, very easily to win the free kick that the goal resulted from.

But credit must go to the side for the tenacity and resolve shown to get back into the game on three seperate occasions where sides of the past would have caved in. Of course, this is no consolation or make the defeat easier to swallow but there are clear signs that yet again that this side does have plenty about it.

In the cold light of day though when the emotion from the defeat settles, Hughes will look at the game and be concerned at the way and manner in which we conceded the goals despite the huge investment in that area. After conceding twice at home to Arsenal last week, it does highlight concerns regarding our defensive solidity against the most potent attacking sides.

Hughes though appears to be fostering a siege mentality at present - with his defence of Craig Bellamy further evidence of this in addition to his post match comments - and having tasted defeat for the first time this season, the big test now is how do we respond.

If the defeat can be used to foster a greater resolve and to learn from the mistakes made in this game, then this side could well be a better one for having tasted defeat in the manner experienced today.