Today the Rams ran out 3-0 winners over Sheffield Wednesday at Pride Park, recording their second home victory.
The return of Stefano Eranio, introduced to the crowd prior to kick-off, was met with open arms, even if it was just a flying visit and not a return to the club as a player, although he demonstrated he’s still got the talent that brought him a cult hero status with many supporters on the training pitch this week.
Derby began the match on the front foot but squandered too many chances, leaving me to fear the worst. Luckily, the Owls didn’t pose much of a threat going forward. Controlling the game, the hosts pushed for a goal and were unfortunate not to have been rewarded for their superior possession.
However, on 45 minutes, Jake Buxton’s head was met with by Jamie Ward’s accurate corner-kick. Bucko’s thumping header allowed the home faithful to breathe a sigh of relief as the players headed for the tunnel in the ascendancy.
The Rams continued to press forward; it didn’t take them long to double their lead. After an outpour down down the flank, Craig Forsyth’s low cross was met with ease by Will Hughes to tap home.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Steve McClaren’s side weren’t finished yet. A similar move down the wing gave, this time, Ward the chance to set up a tap-in. Chris Martin was the grateful benefactor, slotting home to give the home side an unassailable lead. Low and hard crosses like those are tough to beat, Wednesday were besieged from all angles with players also loading the box. Correspondingly further pressure was mounted towards the South Yorkshire’s side.
The match saw the debut of Kalifia Cisse, who signed on a non-contract and game-by-game deal. I was very skeptical about the former Reading player, who has taken weeks (and a John Eustace suspension) to convince the Derby County coaching staff that he should be in the side.
Cisse operated very well in the midfield, put in some clean tackles and made some tidy passes.
Going forward, both Jamie Ward, lapping it up against a side he seems to relish facing, and on-loan Simon Dawkins booth looked lively and perilous to the opponent’s defence.
Moreover, left-back Craig Forsyth had a more composed game, in which he assisted the second goal therefore an honourable mention goes to him, along with Will Hughes, who initiated many attacks.
As for Sheffield Wednesday, I was fearing a more difficult game after their 5-2 drubbing of high-flyers Reading (their first victory of the season) last week. Today the Owls barely mounted a significant attack and constantly hoofed the ball forward, an utter contrast to the fluid Rams.
I firmly believe that Derby are contenders for the top six. There are plenty of players set to return after the international break, they’ll surely only strengthen the side. Nevertheless recent defensive frailties cannot be ignored but the fewer they become, the better.