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Back a close contest as Derby and Forest renew East Midlands rivalry

Just one of the last six encounters between Derby County and Nottingham Forest have finished with 11 men-a-side on the pitch. All those other recent fixtures have seen the referee reach into his pocket for a red card.

These bitter East Midlands rivals, united only in their reverence for iconic manager Brian Clough, are both in poor form, so there is every chance that a lack of discipline may overwhelm them again.

Coral make Steve McClaren’s Rams 21/20 favourites for a win that would keep their slender hopes of automatic promotion from the Championship alive. In all honesty, the top two spots are for leader Leicester City and Burnley to lose.

Derby have emerged victorious from three of their last five battles with Forest, who are 13/5 outsiders for three points. A draw is 23/10. In large part down to sendings off, recent derbies have been tight affairs.

Because County have no win in four – and failed to score in that dismal run – and Billy Davies’ Reds are without a league victory in six, punters look guaranteed to make money on low total goals markets. The 0-2 bracket is 7/10, but not what you would call heavily odds-on given the violent history of this fixture.

Forest look the more likely to find the net as, despite their poor recent run, they have grabbed goals in five of the last seven in all competitions. Their forwards have little pedigree of netting against Derby, however.

Simon Cox has two in four career appearances when paired with this opposition, so he is your best bet for a goal anytime at 2/1. The Reds could see one of their academy products line up against them here in young Patrick Bamford.

Poached by Chelsea, he was loaned to McClaren’s Rams in January, and has five in a dozen Championship games. If punters fancy County to stop the rot here, then back Bamford at 7/4 to net anytime.

Defensive midfielder John Eustace is banned for the hosts, but Will Hughes – who recently won the Football League’s young player of the year award – should shake off a knock to start.

Visitors Forest are without the creative talents of Andy Reid for this derby. No player has made more goals for teammates than the Republic of Ireland internationals, so punters must thus be sanguine about Davies’ chances of getting a result against his old club.

It will be close, but fans of blood and thunder football matches may enjoy this encounter far more than the pampered Premier League heavyweight contest between Chelsea and Arsenal.

Take odds of 19/20 on a ‘no’ for both teams scoring as Derby and Forest look destined to draw a blank.