It’s fair to say that Derby would have taken a point before the game, and that’s what we got. It wasn’t going to be an easy game at all, Rovers still carry vast Premier League quality and experience in their ranks.
Theo Robinson’s 88th minute strike rescued the Rams a point from a tough battling game. Rovers had taken the lead on the 34th minute through Scotland international Jordan Rhodes, who struck a wonder strike into the Derby goal. That’s exactly what you get for £8 million – quality goals.
Derby’s first half display wasn’t at all inspiring and were even booed off the pitch by some of the home support. The Rams created few chances in the first half and had Adam Legzdins to thank for a couple of smart saves.
It was pretty similar from Derby for the majority of the second period, until the last 15 minutes where we saw much more urgency from the home team.
In goal, Frank Fielding remained sidelined with injury so Adam Legzdins continued in goal. The former Burton stopper impressed me again today with some impressive saves, including an excellent parry from a Mortem Gamst Pederson free kick that looked certain to be heading into the top corner. He did, however, drop a couple of balls but was straight equal to the loose ball. It’s really good to see Nigel Clough have two good goalkeepers at the club who can push each other for the jersey on a Saturday afternoon, there really will be a selection dilemma when Fielding returns.
Gareth Roberts was another absentee through injury so James O’Connor played left-back and did a job, but was taken off early in order for Derby to bring more attacking options into the fray. Both Richard Keogh and Jake Buxton battled well today, holding off a lot of pressure from Jordan Rhodes. Right-back John Brayford did fine, but failed to link up with Paul Coutts as well as he has in recent outings.
Right-midfielder Paul Coutts swung in a couple of good corners in the first half but nobody converted them. Jeff Hendrick continued in the centre, having little impact on the game. Craig Bryson played parts of the game as an advanced midfield player, he plays that role quite well and gets himself into some brilliant positions (like his goal V Forest). Earlier in the day, it was announced that Will Hughes had signed a new contract that will run until the summer of 2015. Hughes was again out wide, despite everyone knowing that he is at his best in the centre. I believe it’s time to put the 17-year old in the centre more often, even if it is at the expense of Jeff Hendrick.
Conor Sammon was poor today, he really needs another goal to boost his confidence. But let’s not forget there’s more to Sammon’s game than scoring, he battles for those high balls and holds the ball up but today he did little to impress me. Next week could be the former-Wigan striker’s chance to get a couple of goals – Tuesday’s opponents Ipswich have conceded 21 goals so far this season and Saturday’s opponents Peterborough have conceded a total of 19 goals this term, they are both in the relegation zone and Ipswich have the worst goal difference and Peterborough the second worst goal difference. Theo Robinson partnered Sammon up front, as well as occasionally drifting out wide. Robinson was bad throughout, excluding his late goal that earned the Rams a share of the spoils.
The two substitutions made by Nigel Clough added more of an attacking threat to the side’s play. Michael Jacobs came on and got involved but it was Nathan Tyson who made the most impact in my opinion, he added more energy and gave Derby a big boost. The subs, for me, came too late and should have been on about 10-20 minutes earlier. I’d like to see both of these players starting in one of the games next week.
My man of the match goes to Richard Keogh, again making some good tackles. He’s been a huge stand out this season.
Following the result, the Rams lie in 14th position, 5 points clear of the relegation zone and 5 points away from the play-offs.
Derby: Legzdins, Brayford, Keogh, Buxton, O’Connor (Tyson, 84), Coutts, Hendrick, Bryson, Hughes, T Robinson, Sammon (Jacobs, 75). Other subs: Deeney (gk), O’Brien, Gjokaj, Freeman, Bennett.
Blackburn: P Robinson, Orr, Dann, Givet, Olsson, Lowe Dunn (Formica, 67), Etuhu, Pedersen, Kazim-Richards, Rhodes. Other subs: Kean (gk), Murphy, Hanley, Gomes, Rochina, Ribiero.