What a victory!
Midfielder Craig Bryson scored Derby’s goal to beat Forest for the third successive time. This game followed the last two East Midlands derbies in having a player sent off, this time it was Nottingham Forest’s Dexter Blackstock for an elbow on Richard Keogh.
In the first half Forest were the better team, mounting pressure on the Derby defence. The first half was full of tackles flying about, making it a really physical game and therefore difficult to play good passing football. The physical element of the game resulted in a fair few long balls being played.
The game didn’t flow in the first half because of all the fouls but Forest did have a penalty shout when Buxton had a ball strike his arm, luckily the referee viewed the contact as accidental. Forest came close when Greg Halford’s ‘Rory Deal throw-in’ baffled both the Derby defence and Forest attack before going wide of the goal.
Derby forward Conor Sammon struck the ball with his weaker right foot outside the box only for the ball to just miss the top corner, Simon Cox saw a similar effort go wide moments later. So the teams went into the break at 0-0. I thought the referee gave some harsh decisions against Derby for some of the challenges in the first half. The away side never really created any openings in that first period.
Seconds into the second period and Reds striker Dexter Blackstock was given a straight red for elbowing Richard Keogh, who went up for a challenge with Blackstock. The Forest number 23 ,after the game, tweeted “Sorry for letting the side down but I only had my eyes on the ball and never ever tried to elbow him. Gutted” He also added “And respect for Richard Keogh saying in his interview that it wasn’t a red card”.
The game changed after that red card, The Rams saw much more of the ball and used that to create more opportunities. On 55 minutes John Brayford set winger Paul Coutts free, who delivered an inviting cross into the 6 yard box for Craig Bryson to get the critical touch to put Derby ahead!
Soon after Jamie Ward, on the wing after starting up-front, went down injured. Subsequently former Northampton midfielder Michael Jacobs came on as a replacement but Ward didn’t leave the pitch quietly, he signalled to the Forest fans the score with his fingers and picked up and pretended to pocket one of the coins that was thrown by Forest fans. He’s always brilliant at winding up opposing supporters! I do feel really sorry for Ward, he was doing really well this season so hopefully the injury doesn’t set him back much.
In the final 20 minutes The Reds piled on the pressure on the Derby defence despite their one man disadvantage but Derby held off the pressure well, making some vital clearances and smart tackles.
Frank Fielding was close to making an error after he fumbled a free-kick but thankfully he was on hand to gather the ball back up. The former Blackburn ‘keeper more than made up for his near error when he superbly palmed Simon Gillet’s volley wide. After 5 minutes of added time the whistle blew meaning The Rams had held on much to the delight of the 4,000 + travelling supporters.
I thought Derby’s defending was wonderful today and had some good spells in the second half. Overall I’d say The Rams deserved the three points because of the superb defensive display holding off a lot of Forest pressure.
My man of the match has to go to Richard Keogh, who was instrumental in retaining the Brian Clough Trophy. Jake Buxton comes as a relatively close second, he also put on a great defensive display. Keogh looks every bit as good as Jason Shackell, if not more. Jake Buxton isn’t a ‘rubbish non-league’ centre back as some have dubbed him during his time as a Ram, well he’s certainly better than that as today has shown.
Derby coach Jonny Metgod post match on the red card “I’m in the lucky position to go home and in about two-to-three hours’ time, I’ll have another look at it and make up my mind, which for the referee, obviously he can’t. The only thing I would say is I can’t see a referee taking a decision like that if he’s not absolutely convinced. If there was any doubt whatsoever, I can’t see him sending him off.”
Sean O’Driscoll on the red card “I could see why he’s given it, but I thought it was harsh if I’m honest. “If we are aware that he is coming out and he’s going to punish the first foul or whatever, then at least we can prepare the players. To do it so suddenly and so quickly was disappointing.”
Richard Keogh on the decision “I think he was just jumping for the ball to be fair to him, on another day he doesn’t get sent off. At the end of the day it’s up for the ref to call it, and it went our way.”
Craig Bryson on the win “It doesn’t get much better than today and I’m delighted to have got the goal. The result is massive for us; it is our first clean sheet of the season and our first away win of the campaign as well – and we could not have got it at a better place. A clean sheet was just as important as the win; we have been wanting one for a while. We should have had a couple already by now but it is pleasing to get it here. In local derbies it is not about the performance, it is about the result and we are just delighted to come away with the three points today.”
Former Ram Robbie Savage’s thoughts “The question is whether Dexter Blackstock intentionally elbowed Richard Keogh. There was contact and the referee made the decision to send him off – that has completely and utterly changed the game. Derby weren’t in the game in the first half, Forest had possession but didn’t capitalise. On the balance of 90 minutes Derby were the better team and deserved the win.”
What a day!