Billy Davies believes his young Nottingham Forest side received a valuable lesson after defeat at Derby dealt a blow to their Coca-Cola Championship automatic promotion hopes.
Rob Hulse headed the only goal of the game after 78 minutes as Forest missed the chance to temporarily rejoin league leaders Newcastle at the summit and Davies accepted his former club coped better with the derby atmosphere but refused to criticise his players following the end of the club's 19-game unbeaten league run.
He said: "It was a scrappy affair. They did a good job of stopping us play and we never got started. We looked a bit more like ourselves at the start of the second half but we didn't get going and that was disappointing."
He added: "Derby coped better with the type of game it was and that is a lesson to these young players. We had too many at five and six out of 10.
"But am I going to criticise these players? Not a chance. I am very proud of what they have done so far this season - they have been top class. They are allowed off-days, they are a good group who are learning and improving all the time and this is another learning curve for them."
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