By Tony Leighton
Derby County head to Cardiff City on Tuesday evening looking for only a second win in 10 league outings but with manager Nigel Clough relishing the prospect of taking on the npower Championship leaders in their own back yard.
Clough has bemoaned his mid-table team's misfortune in recent matches and will be willing lady luck to turn in the Rams' favour as they look to become only the third visiting team this season to win at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The Bluebirds have the best home record in the division, but Clough said: "There couldn't be a better game for us at the moment - we're not playing badly at all and we're very close to putting a few victories together.
"In our last two home games [against Bolton Wanderers and Crystal Palace] we've dominated both of them, we've had 45 to 50 shots over the two games and we've only got one goal and one point for our efforts.
"We've got to improve a bit with our finishing, but we've certainly not been getting a break in the penalty area and I can't ask much more from the players in terms of either their effort or their level of performance.
"It's staggering the effort they put in, chasing back, winning balls, producing wave after wave of attacks. That's the way we've been playing and we'll go to Cardiff aiming to play exactly the same way - I'm looking forward to it."
Derby are currently lying 13th in the table and they are well positioned to improve on last season's 12th-place finish - the highest they have achieved since Clough took charge at Pride Park midway through the 2009/10 campaign.
But it may prove be too tall an order, the manager admits, for the Rams to finish off with a higher points tally than last term's 64 - that would mean taking 23 points from their remaining 11 Championship outings.
Clough said: "We've been talking about that and we're not sure we'll be able to get the same amount of points as last season, but there's been a big improvement in the level of performances whether or not it's reflected in the points total."
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