What an awfully frustrating afternoon at Pride Park, reminiscent of many away days in recent years – but it hurts more on your own patch.
Derby 0-3 Burnley
From the off, the Rams bossed it. Their passing and possession keeping was impressive but there was no end product, the Clarets contained the passing football but barely got hold of it themselves. But that was in the first ten minutes or so.
Danny Ings muscled his way forward, surging through Derby’s helpless midfield and then catching Jake Buxton in the wrong mind to open the scoring. A bitter blow after minutes of dominance.
Derby did continue to press forward but without quality, which was clearly left behind on Tuesday.
Sean Dyche arrived at Pride Park armed with a plan to frustrate the Rams and counter attack, exposing defensive frailties. It worked a treat for the travelling support from Lancashire.
Sam Vokes doubled the away side’s lead with little over half an hour gone on the watch. It was a scrappy goal that didn’t come without its chances to clear – Derby just couldn’t bundle it away. Nobody would be discussing this had Lee Grant routinely collected the cross, some have argued. Again, a destructive blow.
The back end of the first period contained more efforts to get forward from the hosts, however the resolute Clarets soaked up the pressure and continued to threaten themselves. Chances missed by the Rams’ forward line didn’t land them in good stead for the second-half.
At the interval Nigel Clough made a change, which is extremely early by his standards. Kieron Freeman made way for Spurs loanee Adam Smith. Following the conclusion of the match, Clough was apparently (I wasn’t tuned in) critical of the substituted full-back on the radio.
The Rams came back out and were less fluid and more flat with their passing, clearly dejected by the first-half proceedings. Having said that, they should’ve capitalised on their forward play – not just the penalty.
With around half an hour to go, the referee served up an opportunity for Derby to pick up a point from the match. Chris Martin had been brought down in the area, one of many times – perhaps this was compensation for earlier fouls that eluded the ref.
To add to the misery, former Derby defender Jason Shackell got in on the act and scored – diverting a delightful Keith Treacy cross goalwards.
This followed more pain as Nigel Clough’s side simply couldn’t muster anything together to scar the buoyant away team.
Overall, Derby couldn’t take advantage of their time on the ball and struggled to show signs of real quality and shrewdness in the last third. They came unstuck against an organised and rigid unit that used their physicality effectively.
Substitutions came late for Derby, if you put aside the defensive like-for-like half-time swap. Attacking-wise, Ben Davies and Conor Sammon weren’t introduced until the 67th and 75th minutes – one of them should’ve been chucked into the action earlier to add a fresh pair of legs and hopefully an injection of more life.
Full credit to Burnley though. They continue in being the Rams’ bogey side – nine matches between the sides have past without the Midlands side coming through on top.
A defeat like this is never any good but I feel it’s worse when it’s going into an international break. A game coming soon after can often help players re-find their form, rhythm and confidence. The next game is on 14th September at Millwall.
This was clearly a bad day. It doesn’t mean the season’s over. We’ve seen plenty of cause for optimism, just not in this particular outing.
The transfer window shuts on Monday. The central-defence position is being talked as a position in need of bolstering amongst supporters, yet the message from the club appears to be that there is satisfaction with what’s available. The defence weren’t good today, as a unit and at coping with Burnley’s surges forward. I think a loan centre-half would be good, if a full signing is not what the club wish to do with Mark O’Brien and Shaun Barker set to return, to add extra competition and provide the options to change things up. On the other hand, let’s remember that the entire team were bad today – not just the defence.
At the end of the game, news emerged that influential midfielder Jeff Hendrick, whose presence was sorely missed, would be out for around 12 weeks with the ankle injury picked up at Yeovil. You have to wonder whether John Eustace should have replaced him, not Paul Coutts.