Wayne Rooney somehow lost this showdown of the two interim bosses after Callum Paterson nodded in against the run of play.
Derby dominated from start to finish yet it was Sheffield Wednesday under caretaker Neil Thompson who celebrated the new year by climbing out of the Championship’s relegation places.
Thompson, whose previous dugout experience in the Football League amounts to spells in the basement division with York and Boston at the turn of the century, is clearly finding this management lark a breeze.
Interim Sheffield Wednesday boss Neil Thompson won his first game in charge against Derby
Sheffield Wednesday players celebrate win, they’re now out the drop zone on goal difference
Two matches, two wins for a man placed in charge following the unseemly split with Tony Pulis by the Yorkshire club this week.
In turn, Rooney was condemned to only a second defeat in nine matches since swapping a place up front for one in the technical area by a set-piece goal just after the hour.
Barry Bannan’s dead-ball delivery sucked Derby goalkeeper David Marshall from his line and when his punch failed to clear the area, Liam Shaw headed forward and Paterson’s instinctive flick of the forehead proved decisive.
The result puts two clubs with other current similarities level on points.
Callum Patterson celebrates after his goal gave Sheffield Wednesday the lead at Hillsborough
Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith, Odubajo, Lees, Shaw, Palmer, Reach, Pelupessy, Bannan, Harris, Paterson (Rhodes 72), Windass (Kachunga 37)
Subs not used: Penney, Dele-Bashiru, Brown, Hunt, Brennan, Waldock, Jackson, Kachunga
Goal: Paterson 61
Derby County: Marshall, Byrne, Wisdom, Clarke, Forsyth (Buchanan 72), Knight, Bielik, Shinnie (Bird 72), Jozwiak Kazim-Richards, Sibley (Hector-Ingram 79)
Subs not used: te Wierik, Roos, Evans, Watson, Gordon
Booked: Kazim-Richards, Jozwiak
Referee: Matthew Donohue
Neither set of players received their December wages on time and while that matter has been resolved at Hillsborough, Derby’s delayed pay roll is understood to be related to the imminent takeover by Derventio Holdings.
Both have also endured wretched starts to the Championship season, although the visitors appear much further advanced in their recovery on the evidence of their play at least.
Derby pinned their opponents in their own territory for the majority of the first half and peppered the home goal.
Several blocks spared Joe Wildsmith – recalled due to a knock to first-choice Keiren Westwood – from making too many saves but he had to be alert to beat out Louie Sibley’s long-range piledriver on the quarter hour and was grateful that Graeme Shinnie shanked the follow-up effort when Kamil Jozwiak retrieved the ball from the byline.
Louie Sibley went close for Derby at Hillsborough but found keeper Joe Wildsmith in top form
Then, after Tom Lees inadvertently deflected Matt Clarke’s goal bound effort wide, a diving header from Colin Kazim-Richards beat the goalkeeper but crashed back into play off the underside of the crossbar.
Craig Forsyth, the deliverer of the cross for that opportunity, also produced a brilliant surge and centre from the left that somehow evaded both Jozwiak and Kazim-Richards 10 minutes into the second half.
And during a frantic finale, Derby were denied a penalty following a handball shout and saw Max Bird’s shot brilliantly blocked by Kadeem Harris.
It was a frustrating night for Colin Kazim-Richards who saw his diving header hit the crossbar
But they were made to pay for their failure to cap their dominance.
This match allowed attention to switch to on-field affairs just 24 hours after Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri branded Pulis ‘unprofessional’ during a tenure of 45 days in which he delivered just one win in 10 league attempts.
Those close to Pulis say that he has been deeply angered by Chansiri’s outburst but is keeping his own counsel for now at least.