Derby have never won at the King Power Stadium and faced a Leicester City side who went into the game sitting pretty in the league’s Play-Offs.
The Rams’ dreadful form against their fellow East Midlanders continued in the day’s Sky Sports Live tea time fixture, a 4-1 defeat. News came in before the game that pivotal midfielder Craig Bryson would miss it through a knee injury and consistent full-back Gareth Roberts would sit out as a result of a calf injury he picked up in midweek.
The eleven Nigel Clough picked to start the game: Legzdins, Brayford, Keogh, Buxton, O’Connor, Coutts, Hendrick, Hughes, Jacobs, Robinson, Sammon (4-4-2).
I don’t think Derby could have got off to a worse start. It took Nigel Pearson’s Foxes just 6 minutes to take the lead, the goal came courtesy of a superb header by Zak Whitbread. The City defender benefited from what looked to be confusion amongst Derby as to who was marking him. Leicester’s was doubled just over fifthteen minutes after scoring their first. Martyn Waghorn, who has been a transfer target for Derby in the past, was the man who got the goal after an error from James O’Connor.
It was the Rams who were next to score, through top goalscorer Theo Robinson. Michael Jacobs’ neat cross was wonderfully brought down by the striker, who’s excellent first touch enabled him to hit the ball home. After that goal the away side enjoyed a spell of dominance, keeping possession away from any man in blue.
After chances went begging for an equaliser it was Leicester City who were the side who managed to put the ball in the net next. Substitute David Nugent, who seems to always bag a goal against Derby, leapt above Richard Keogh to net a header. If that 74th minute goal didn’t throw away hopes of a comeback then the former Portsmouth striker’s goal on 89 minutes certainly did. The substitute’s second goal was a wonderful half volley, terrifically taken in the penalty area.
Just looking at the scoreline you’d think Derby were annihilated but they weren’t in terms of possession and general play. It’s fair to say that the Rams deserved a point from the game but unfortunately the rot on the road has continued. The club’s impressive home form needs to be converted to away form.
Again Adam Legzdins started between the sticks, ahead of former England under-21 international Frank Fielding. The Derby stopper was the Rams’ best player in the game, in my opinion. He made some top draw saves, had it not been for him Derby could have lost the fixture by a wider margin. Legzdins denied Martyn Waghorn expertly on a couple of occasions, Knockeart, Dyer and Nugent also forced good saves out of the ‘keeper. Despite conceding four goals, he without doubt deserves to continue to keep his place.
Derby’s defence had quite a nightmare in this Championship encounter. The defending wasn’t good for the Foxes first goal, which came from a corner. Richard Keogh perhaps should have stuck with his man Zak Whitbread, who scored the goal. Martyn Waghorn was the second scorer, aided by James O’Connor, in the side after Roberts was sidelined. The former Doncaster versatile defender mistakenly, and somewhat carelessly, miss passed the ball. That miss pass was pounced upon. I feel O’Connor has been quite clumsy on occasions this campaign. Nuegnt used his power to rise above Keogh in the third goal and the fourth was a wonder finish, difficult to do much about. I feel, collectively as a defence, this was one of their worse outings this season. I hope it’s brushed up on the training ground ahead of next week.
The Rams’ midfield were non-existent for the majority of the first half but sprung into life for the back end of the first period. During their little existence spell, they couldn’t get on the ball and were victim’s of Leicester City’s sheer domination at that time. Craig Bryson was missing, and there’s no doubt that Derby could have done with his energetic approach and controlling play. 17-year old Will Hughes was instrumental to the Rams’ spell of dominance, engineering attacks and developing play. Michael Jacobs had a couple of moments in helping in attacks but his best contribution was definitely the delightful cross to set up Theo Robinson’s goal. Jeff Hendrick made his return to the starting eleven and was involved when the Rams had their spells and had little contribution without the ball, likewise with Paul Coutts.
Theo Robinson managed to keep his spot in the team after equalising against league leaders Cardiff City on Tuesday. He got the goal tonight but was mostly isolated during the game. Strike partner Conor Sammon faced a tough battle against physical captain Wes Morgan, the former Wigan striker did struggle. Nathan Tyson came on with nine minutes remaining, which I’d say is too late.
Full squad and subs: Legzdins, Brayford, Keogh, Buxton, O’Connor (Freeman 76), Coutts, Hendrick, Hughes, Jacobs (Bennett 85), Robinson (Tyson 81), Sammon. Subs not used: Fielding, O’Brien, Hoganson, Davies.
Next up is Leeds United on Saturday 8th December, another difficult game. The match is at Pride Park, where the Rams are on an unbeaten run of six matches.