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Derby County 4-2 Fulham: Slavisa Jokanovic's side paid for defensive calamities and other talking points

Nugent hat-trick and defensive calamities hand Whites a damaging defeat

What a disappointing night it was in Derby.

An evening that begun full of hope ended in turmoil as some horrendous defending helped Dave Nugent bag a hat-trick as Gary Rowett's men stormed to a 4-2 victory at Pride Park.

It was a strange performance from Fulham – for the first half they were by far the better team and Derby's only real sniff at goal had come in the first eight minutes when Nugent bagged his first.

But the penalty changed the tie.

David Button's save was superb and I'm surprised he went on to have the horror show he did in the second half, I thought at the time his save would inspire the Cottagers onto victory but Nugent's scissor kick from the resulting corner put pay to that.

A game like this, which for the neutral could've been dubbed as one of the games of the season, has thrown up a number of talking points, here's what our Fulham reporter Ryan O'Donovan got out of the game.

Cyriac should've started the game

Celebrations: Gohi Cyriac celebrates his first Fulham goal(Image: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

I was surprised when the teams were announced at 6.45pm that Gohi Cyriac's name wasn't listed amongst the starters.

With Chris Martin out for 'political' reasons, Cyriac would've been, to most people I'm sure, the obvious choice to fill in at centre forward, especially in a game where Derby's narrow shape allowed Scott Malone and Ryan Fredericks licence to roam down the channels and put ball after ball into the box.

If Fulham had an out and out centre forward playing, like Cyriac, he could've had a hat-trick himself with the number of balls that were teed up in the six yard box.

The jury is still out as to whether Fulham should've signed a forward in January and based on last night's showing, I get the impression it may come back to haunt them.

Piazon wasn't fit enough to start

Big loss: Lucas Piazon(Image: Alistair Wilson)

It was a curveball from Slavisa Jokanovic to include Lucas Piazon in the starting XI last night, but one that didn't work for me.

The Brazilian looked off the pace and that wasn't surprising considering he hadn't played since that jaw injury in Cardiff and the gamble just didn't work last night.

It would've surprised Rowett, no doubt about it, but he is a good enough manager to cope with change and he proved that last night.

This was a game too early for Piazon – against a side like Derby you need 11 fully fit players playing their roles to near perfection and that didn't happen last night.

This ties in with my last point – I would've kept Piazon on the bench and started Cyriac with Sone Aluko and Floyd Ayite playing wide.

Perhaps then it would've been a different outcome?

Fulham's defensive woes continue to haunt them

David Button(Image: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

If I was watching the third and fourth Derby goal through my fingers, I can only imagine what the hardy travelling fans must've been like.

Nugent's third goal was the stuff of nightmares as Tim Ream turned back to face his own goal under pressure before losing it, while Button's impression of Manuel Neuer would've seen Simon Cowell immediately press his red buzzer had it been an audition for Britain's Got Talent.

If Fulham make play-offs this year, it will be because of their attack – their defence is just not good enough.

There are too many mistakes in there and that costs them time after time, one can only imagine what would happen if this defence was in the Premier League.

I'm unsure as to why Michael Madl lost his place after Saturday when I thought he did well, and I'm even more unsure as to why Ragnar Sigurdsson isn't getting a look in at all now.

It's all or nothing now

Slavisa Jokanovic looks downbeat(Image: Getty Images)

This is make or break time for Jokanovic's side.

I think we all knew they would drop points at some point before the end of the season, and that has happened, albeit in somewhat different circumstances to what we imagined.

There are six games left to go and Fulham can't afford to slip up now – they must beat Ipswich on Saturday and Craven Cottage and get the belief and confidence back in that they can finish in the top six.

If they don't beat Ipswich, I fear play-offs may be a step too far.​

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