The Rams have increased their unbeaten record over bitter rivals Nottingham Forest to four games after a 1-1 draw today.
Former Forest striker and current Derby boss Nigel Clough opted to start with 4-5-1, which worked in the opening spells of the feisty match. Derby controlled it for the first fifth-teen minutes or so, knocking it around and looking to create – both Craig Bryson and Jamie Ward had efforts on goal.
Soon the Rams lost their dominance on the game as the Reds began to climb their way back into it with a couple of shots on goal, one even rattling Adam Legzdins’ crossbar. After just over half an hour on the clock, the Reds got themselves the lead, Chris Cohen saw his second attempt hit the back of the net to send the travelling supporters wild. The Rams did respond to that goal but saw their attempts go wide of the mark, sending the visitors into the break with a lead. Going into the break, Derby fans had every reason to be worried – the Rams needed to find a cutting edge to their creativity and not allow their opponents back into the game.
The second period began pretty even, both sides trying to get their way through. It took Clough’s side just seven second half minutes to draw level, through pocket rocket Jamie Ward. The goal all began from Conor Sammon, who intercepted Simon Gillett to run forward and slot the ball to a thankful Jamie Ward, who came up with a neat finish to send the Derby fans to euphoria. The goal sparked more noise from the stands, where 33,010 packed in to see the Championship’s best attended game all season.
Not long after the equaliser Alex McLeish, managing in his first East Midlands derby, changed his system. He brought on Dexter Blackstock, who was yesterday linked with a move to Derby by Sky Sports, to add to his Billy Sharp and Simon Cox strike force on the pitch. That switched caused Derby some problems but the Rams continued to attempt to mount pressure on their rivals in what was, ultimately, a relatively equal game. Top scorer Theo Robinson and midfielder Michael Jacobs was thrown in the mix by Derby in an effort to get all three points. The Reds pushed for a late winner but failed to do so with Billy Sharp amongst the people going near. It was the away side who probably ended the game on top but Derby had short spells of brief control in the second period. The match puts Derby in 13th, eight points away from the play-offs.
A 1-1 score reflects the game well. It was a battle throughout, hustles and physical encounters were going on, as expected for a local derby. It’s never really expected for perfect passing football in derbies, this was no different – the Rams tried to get the ball down on the ground and play but struggled to do so as a consequence of the physicalness. The Reds often played the long ball game, with neither sides getting a massive foothold on the midfield battles. I can’t say either of the sides played good football, in terms of playing it on the deck it was an awful match but that really doesn’t matter in fierce local derbies.
My man of the match from the game is captain Richard Keogh. He put his foot in there, got stuck in and rallied his Rams troops into surviving pressure. It has to be his pivotal tackles that is the main reason for him being my man of the match. On a few occasions Forest could have been through if it wasn’t for him sliding in. I recall him having a fantastic game back in September at the City Ground too.
Conor Sammon will probably, as always, be slated by some supporters after today’s match but nobody can deny the fact that he was outstanding in getting Derby level. The driving forward to set up Ward was brilliant and all down to Sammon. He worked hard today but had little service to attack. I think the goal means we may be seeing Conor Sammon and Jamie Ward as the club’s first choice strike partnership. I believe those two could work out up front, Sammon has the strength and ability to hold it up whilst Ward can be clinical, create for others and he adds a spark to the Rams’ attack which has been missing. You can also see that Ward really does love and thrive on these local derbies, making his some loved even more by Rams fans and a hateful figure for those in Red.
Will Hughes didn’t have the best of games. The youngster couldn’t really get going, he was always surrounded by men in Red shirts – who clearly knew what he is capable of, given all the attention they paid to stopping him from playing as we have seen. It wasn’t a good game for Hughes, even by his own admission (see below).
I’ll be the first to admit I had a poor game haha it happens but onwards and upwards! #3outof4
— Will Hughes (@willhughes44) January 19, 2013
Watch highlights of the game below. You might want to mute the sound though!
Onward and upward onto next week’s game, which is an FA Cup fourth round showdown with fellow Championship side Blackburn Rovers.
Up The Rams!