The Rams extended their unbeaten home record to 8 matches with a win over old foes Leeds United. This win is also the club’s eighth consecutive victory against the Yorkshire club.
The first half was largely dominated by a Derby side without the injured Gareth Roberts and Craig Bryson. On 15 minutes Conor Sammon broke the deadlock with a low finish after a perfect pass from Will Hughes. After that goal Derby kept the ball well, had a few chances and always looked a threat, until Leeds found an equaliser just before half time. It was former Ram Paul Green who poked the ball into Adam Legzdins’ goal, from a Lucciano Becchio flick on. That goal was against the run of play, Nigel Clough’s side didn’t deserve to go into the break on level terms.
The second half began with the away side looking the sharper of the two Championship rivals. Jake Buxton brought the lead back to the Rams with a goal in which he combined with fellow central defender Richard Keogh, who drove the ball towards goal but Buxton was on hand to slot the ball into Paddy Kenny’s goal. After that, the Whites fought back and mounted pressure on the Rams, who held firm and didn’t allow much past. A combination of defensive solidity, off the line clearances and Leeds’ lack of cutting edge allowed Derby to survive with their 2-1 lead. In stoppage time, substitute Ben Davies curled in a wonderful weaker foot effort beyond the completely beaten Leeds goalkeeper.
— Shaun Barker (@barks5) December 8, 2012
Shake rattle n roll..
— john brayford (@brayfordjohn) December 8, 2012
Quality win the day #montheboys
— Craig Bryson (@bryso7) December 8, 2012
Yyyyyeeeesssss. Get in. Great feeling. No better game to score in. Smile like dwight Yorke tonight. Thanks for all your messages.
— Ben Davies (DCFC) (@18bendavies) December 8, 2012
For a large part of the game the Rams played with a 4-5-1 formation, which has received criticism at points this season. Today it worked very effectively, with Paul Coutts drifting into a more central role. With the 5 in midfield they broke forward when picking up possession and helped out the defence when under pressure.
Will Hughes had one of his best games as a Ram today. He controlled Derby’s midfield and gave what was a five star performance, passing and moving into space. Having the capability to rip apart defences with such passes is a fantastic attribute. Every time I watch him he’s mesmerising, giving a certain spark that the Rams have lacked for a long time. Below is a tweet by Ian Dennis, who commentated on today’s game for BBC Radio 5 Live.
Watch for the name of Will Hughes. 17 year old midfielder for Derby County was outstanding today v Leeds.
— Ian Dennis (@Iandennisbbc) December 8, 2012
It’s fair to say that Jeff Hendrick hasn’t produced the form we saw him do last season but maybe today he’s took a turning point. Today he had, by far, his best game of the season after we have seen him drift out of form. The young Irishman played well today, alongside a man who he developed from the academy with; Will Hughes. Hendrick did pick up a yellow card today for a challenge on Ryan Hall but Leeds boss Neil Warnock said “How Hendrick did not get a red card I will never, ever know. It’s a horrendous challenge, it’s a career-threatening challenge and to get a yellow card for that, I do not understand the game.” To me it looked like there was no malicious intent, with both players all eyes for the ball.
Today saw Conor Sammon grab his 5th goal of the season. He had another game where he impressed hugely, giving the Whites’ defence a torrid time and getting into the right positions. The former Wigan man now appears to be playing with a lot more confidence then we’ve seen at times.
Neil Warnock selected former Ram Paul Green, returning to Pride Park for the first time, as captain. There was an incident in the second half where thee midfielder appeared to dive, due to his desperation in attempting to find an equaliser. We always see former players haunt us, luckily today Green’s goal wasn’t enough for his new side. Looking at Nigel Clough’s current midfielders, is Paul Green not on the same level? Hendrick, Hughes and Coutts all looked good today and of course the injured Bryson plays in the same position as Green – so was it good riddance to Paul Green?
At the start of this season we watched in despair when Derby failed to hold out teams, today’s game is testament to how far the team have come. The Rams had to suffer spells of Leeds pressure but survived them as a rock and then went on to score another! Maybe Derby couldn’t have seen that game out not too long ago?
Overall today the team sent fans home with a smile on their faces. It was a pleasure to watch and let’s hope there’s more of this to come. Next week’s game is against Bristol City, who today beat Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
Up the Rams!
Twitter – @NMtherams