Given Derby’s awful recent results against visitors Leicester City and poor run of form in the current campaign, Rams fans could be forgiven for going into the game far from optimistic. An eight games win-less streak has provoked many supporters to call for changes to the club so it was certainly interesting to see how the Rams would respond, also given the disheartening result at Birmingham last week.
With the game being the league’s late kick-off it meant that the Rams started the game just three points above the bottom three, a worrying statistic ahead of the game. Looking over our shoulders towards the relegation spaces is somewhat frustrating after seeing the team go through some great spells of form and knowing that the club are probably three or four faces off a more realistic top six push.
Back to the game, Rams fan Thomas Few was at the game and in touch with his thoughts:
Derby County faced an out of form Leicester side, which had similar form as Derby of recent, with both sides winning only one of their last nine league games. The game was a slightly later match than usual, kicking off at 5.20pm due to its coverage on Sky Sports 2. As the Rams and the Foxes entertained in front of an attendance of 23,123.
The Rams played the game with a constant sturdy 4-4-2 line up, with Fielding returning between the posts after Clough chose him to start over Legzdins, a choice which pleased many home support after Legzdins’ indecisive moments in recent games (and also one that Nathan predicted in his last article). Craig Forsyth (on loan from Watford) played in the left back position due to Gareth Roberts being left out the squad due to injury. Keogh and Buxton starred as the centre backs and Freeman completed the defence in the right-back role. The midfield was as of expected, as Ward and Bryson made their returns back from injuries, which was seen to be a gamble for Clough, with Ward out on the left side. Upfront staged the Sammon – Martin partnership, suggesting that Martin has impressed the coach in his loan spell, with Clough wishing to extend his loan.
The match started lively, with the Foxes supplying the early pressure, with King heading over in 3 minutes. The game then quietened as a midfield battle took place between the two sides. Then in the 16th minute, Derby won a free kick a few yards out from the Foxes box, on the left side, Ward almost opted for a short pass to Coutts, but smartly changed his mind and fizzed a curling free-kick into the box, of which Keogh managed to get behind and powered a header past the diving Schmeichel. Ward’s dangerous presence yet again supplying Derby with a goal.
On the 26th minute, Hendrick sloppily lost Derby possession and put Derby in real trouble, luckily Dyer’s snap shot whistled past the post, an effort that you really feel he should have made more off. And just a minute later the Rams won another free kick on the left side of the Foxes half, but Ward’s effort lacked the precision of the first, as no one was there to meet Keogh’s headed flick-on. Derby then continued their pressure, and a minute before half time they were rewarded as Forsyth’s brilliant ball in from the left met the head of Martin as he got his first goal in his time on loan at the Rams, and a well-deserved one at that.
Leicester then came out to the second half looking to push back into the game, making the tactical change of Schlupp coming on for Richie Wellens, a substitution that was seen as a smart move for the Foxes, as Schlupp blasted an unstoppable 18 yard shot past Fielding in the 62nd minute, after a perfectly waited ball from Nugent was placed in his path. And just a minute later Ward had to go off due to his hamstring, as he was replaced by Ben Davies, it is currently unknown how serious this injury was. In the 65th minute Ben Davies’ corner was cleared, and then he went for a 25 yard long shot and almost hit the target as it just lashed over. Marshall then took a long shot for the Foxes on 70 minutes from 20 yards out, but Fielding did well to parry the effort, and then pick up the pieces. On the 82nd minute the impressive Freeman was seen to have picked up a knock, as he was replaced by Valatin Gojak (who deservedly achieved an under 21s Albania call up today).
The Foxes then piled on the pressure for the last 10 minutes, after Schmeichel hoofed ball after ball into the Derby box, which Keogh and Buxton managed to keep clearing utilising their aerial ability. The Foxes had a few long shots, but with none of them hitting the target. Six minutes of added time was then played, of which Derby managed to defend extremely well, clearing change after chance. The referee then blew up as the Rams won their first game in six against the foxes, after 5 straight defeats against them.
Jamie Ward yet again shone for the Rams, so hopefully his injury is not too serious, as the Rams really do miss him when he is not in the starting line up, I also wish a speedy recovery to Freeman. Keogh picked up the man of the match reward, as he captained the Rams to victory, and also won almost every airborne ball. Overall, the Rams showed real grit and determination as they came out deserving 2-1 winners in this Midlands clash, moving the Rams 6 points ahead of the relegation places. The win resulted in Nigel Clough having this to say, “The fans were also excellent today, they created a great atmosphere and that only went to help inspire the players to victory.” I have to say, I also believed that the atmosphere was top quality tonight, keeping me warm on a frosty night. Thanks again to Nathan Morley for allowing me to write on behalf of his blog again, for now COYR! Thanks, Tom.
So the horrible form has come to an end! What an outstanding display from the DCFC defence, both Richard Keogh and Jake Buxton had a cracking games. The club are in negotiations with Norwich over extending the loan of Chris Martin, who gave a wonderful performance tonight and deserves a lot of praise. Jamie Ward’s impact was welcome to the side today, it’s believed he was mainly taken off as a precaution with it being his first match back since going off early in the Crystal Palace game.
We’ve seen plenty of other occasions where Derby haven’t seen out games like that but the character mustered the result today. Whereas Leicester didn’t look impressive at all, for me not showing characteristics of a top six side. They lumped the ball forward, having little attacks built up with passing.
Only one of the Rams’ final eight fixtures is against a current top half side, so let’s hope for a good end to the season! The next match is another home fixture and it’s against Sean O’Driscoll’s Bristol City, who lie at the bottom of the table.
On a final note, I’d like to thank Tom for another brilliant article.
Up the Rams!