Yesterday Vicarage Road was the venue for the Rams, who took on an in-form Watford side, after two consecutive home draws. Jonathan Rodgers was among the Rams supporters at the game and has kindly sent in his thoughts for this match review.
I don’t think many of the 929 Derby fans at Vicarage Road expected anything more than a battling point from yesterday’s game. Watford were clearly a different proposition to the side we tonked at Pride Park earlier in the season. They’re good enough to get automatic promotion, I should know I’ve seen them about ten times and some of their performances have been brilliant.
I found the 2-1 defeat disappointing but we played well in parts and certainly had the best of the second half. We probably deserved a point in the end and could have had one if Ward had connected with a Coutts cross a few minutes from time.
We started off with the same side that finished the Bolton game in midweek, meaning that Ben Davies continued at right back. New loan signing, Chris Martin, started on the bench.
I thought we started off quite well, knocking the ball around a bit and looking quite dangerous. However, it wasn’t long before Watford began to dominate and Cassetti, Vydra, Ekstrand and Anya all had good chances to score. At the same time, Derby had changed from a 4-4-2 formation to what looked like a 4-5-1 with Wardy hugging the left touch line. This had the same result it normally has in leaving Sammon isolated and ineffective. Before long the inevitable happened and Vydra (who I think is the best finisher in the division) scored a cracker of a goal past Legzdins and in off the post. Around this time Michael Hoganson sustained an injury which resulted in him being subbed at half time.
Bucko came on for Hoganson in the second half, slotting in at centre half while Brayford returned to right back and Ben Davies moving to left back. Chris Martin also came on to make his debut, replacing the anonymous Jacobs and this meant that we were now playing 4-3-3 with Ward, Sammon and Martin up front and Coutts, Hendrick and Bryson in midfield.
We had much the better of the second half with Martin demonstrating some nice touches and good hold up play. However, we conceded a soft headed goal from a corner that could easily have been cleared. Ekstrand was the scorer.
Despite this, we carried on battling away and pulled a goal back from a Ward penalty after Keogh had been brought down. Sammon, who had had a poor second half was replaced by Bennett, who showed a lot of skill and composure, linking up well with his fellow players.
Alas, an equaliser never came and the result left us 8 points off a play off place in eleventh place.
To be honest, I think that the team is missing the creativity of Hughes in central midfield. Sammon was also a worry for me. I am a fan but this was not one of his best games and his control and finishing let him down on several occasions. The patched up defence did OK but we did concede yet another soft goal from a ball crossed into the box. A big central defender is needed in the summer, surely. Can we get in the play-offs? On this performance, possibly. But we need to get results against Palace and Cardiff and get a run going. Otherwise it’s a mid table finish.
Thanks very much to Jonathan for this. This defeat has put Derby down in 11th place, 8 points a drift from the prized play-off spots. The next game for the Rams is also against another top 6 opposition, this time it’s Ian Holloway’s Crystal Palace on Friday 1st March at Pride Park.
Up the Rams!