At the start of the season pundits had been tipping Paul Hart's side for promotion. But after twelve league games without a win, the Reds, who went down 1-0 at home to Reading eleven days ago, must battle for their future in the division in their remaining eighteen league games.
Derby meanwhile, have hit a bit of a winning streak ahead of their game against Reading on Saturday. The Rams 2-0 win over promotion-chasing Sheffield United tonight comes on the back of a 2-1 win over Gillingham. Amazingly, before tonight George Burley's side hadn't managed to record back-to-back wins all season.
After a dour first half at Pride Park that saw few goal-scoring opportunities the encounter came to life in the second half.
The Rams created a variety of openings in the second period and were rewarded for their enterprise twenty minutes from time when Tudgay headed past Paddy Kenny from close range.
The Blades hardly-looked like the Premiership outfit they are aspiring to be and had their defeat confirmed in the last minute of the game when Izale McLeod capitalised on Kenny's mistake to make it 2-0.
Whilst Sheffield United were poor on the night, a win for Derby over such supposedly mighty opposition serves as an ominous sign for the Royals. A victory for Reading at the weekend against the Rams is crucial, but Derby, crippled by financial constraints, will be fighting for the win every bit as hard.
However, tongihts result means that Steve Coppell's side stay just nine points adrift of the top two, but in reality a Sheffield United defeat was hardly the result Royals fans were hoping for.