Steve McClaren endured another unhappy return to the Riverside as Middlesbrough leapfrogged Derby in the Championship
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Steve McClaren admits Derby are way ahead of schedule after he guided the club to the brink of promotion back to the Barclays Premier League.
– Derby boss Steve McClaren
We're way ahead of schedule and if you'd have told me we'd make the play-offs at half-time of the first game against Ipswich in October, when we were 4-1 down, I wouldn't have believed you.
Icame here and signed for two-and-a-half years and said I wanted to build a football club. I wanted to get the fans back, the place buzzing again and a good brand of football on the field.
The fans have appreciated that so they've been coming back and now there's a big buzz around the town. Stage one, for me, has been achieved.
Barnsley's chances of Sky Bet Championship survival were left hanging by a thread after a 2-1 defeat at play-off-bound Derby left them four points from safety with two games to play.
A glaring error by goalkeeper Luke Steele allowed Jeff Hendrick to put the Rams ahead before a deflected Johnny Russell shot increased their lead and, although Nick Proschwitz pulled a goal back, it came too late for the visitors.
Russell had a chance to extend the hosts' advantage with a penalty eight minutes from the end, but saw it saved by Steele.
Twenty-four years to the day since Derby last beat QPR at home they repeated the feat to keep their Sky Bet Championship promotion challenge firmly on track.
John Eustace scored the only goal of the game, more than four-and-a-half years after his last for the Rams, as the division's most potent attack came out on top against the tightest defence at the iPro Stadium.
Former Derby and Stoke defender Danny Higginbotham has announced his retirement with immediate effect only a week after joining Skrill North side Altrincham.
– Former Stoke defender Danny Higginbotham.
I realise this will come completely out of the blue to a lot of people, but, believe me, it is not a decision that has been taken lightly. It is a massive step to hang up your boots and accept you are finished, but it's one I could not avoid.
Looking back, I should probably have quit when I left Chester, but I couldn't pass up the chance of joining Alty. I always said I would play for the club I have always supported and I genuinely hoped it would prove the catalyst for firing me up again and getting me back to how I used to be.
Higginbotham started his career at Manchester United where he made seven appearances, before a loan spell at Royal Antwerp preceded spells with Derby, Southampton, Stoke and Sunderland.