Today’s East Midlands derby had it all; typically fiery, goals and a red card.
Beforehand I would’ve taken a point and, in the end, it was a fair result.
On the way, Bobby Zamora’s face was littered on signs. I’m glad it has been of amusement to our foes down the A52.
Enough of that and on with the real business, Ryan Shotton starting to try and contain the hosts’ advances down the wing made sense and Will Hughes was the obvious replacement for the injured Jeff Hendrick.
The game began with tackles flying around and therefore it seemed a little stop-start early on. However, it all calmed down when both sets of supporters united on the 10th minute in tribute of Brian Clough.
Shotton was terrorised by the dangerous Antonio, while elsewhere, the Reds were mostly restricted.
It was Forest that had the better of the chances in the first-half but Derby’s defence held firm and weathered the storm. 0-0 at the break, coupled with two key Reds going off injured, gave Derby a good chance in the second-half. I was beginning to think the away side would sneak a win.
Things hotted up a notch in the second-half. After around 70 minutes, Assombalonga’s smart finish put the home side ahead. There was nothing the commanding Lee Grant could do, it was a well-taken goal by the man kept largely quiet throughout the game.
Positive substitutions from Steve McClaren helped freshen things up. Leon Best, Ivan Calero and Jordan Ibe coming on showed, once again, he is not afraid to make bold changes.
At times I felt Derby lacked a more direct winger because there was too much passing, instead of swinging a cross in.
The Rams responded soon after the opening goal through a scrappy goal. Forsyth, who should take free-kicks more often, swung in a lovely ball, met by Keogh’s head. After crashing against the crossbar the ball found itself in a goal mouth scramble, only ended by Ryan Shotton poking the ball home. There it was; the character any successful has to find in tricky situations.
Jake Buxton did, in truth, deserve his sending off late on. This fixture produces a red card religiously and Bucko was quickly a contender to follow the trend in today’s match.
Prior to that, the scenes were ridiculous. A Forest fan was allowed to wander all the way from the Trent End to the away support and back, unchallenged. Getting him sorted early would have surely prevented others from attempting to follow him.
Like I said (no, I’m not Richard Keogh!) earlier, it was a fair result. Forest were the better side in the first 45 and Derby responded in the second period.
Skipper Richard Keogh was tremendous throughout. He made some heroic interventions and coped well with the home side’s £5 million plus dangerman. During pre-season, many, including me, expressed concern. Today he put on a true captain’s performance.
Also putting in a good shift was Will Hughes. The youngster drove the side forward and wasn’t afraid to put in a tackle. In terms of strength, Hughes has improved hugely.
Today provided Stuart Pearce’s side with their most difficult test so far and, on the day, they didn’t look like a side flying high at the league’s summit. Nevertheless, Derby weren’t and still aren’t at their best, but they’re getting closer. Today, Craig Bryson couldn’t get into the game and Chris Martin had little service to thrive on.
Two tough test are on the way in this coming week. Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City await.