It was Derby’s first home league victory of the camapign. A convincing and disciplined display helped secure the three points.
The Rams were a genuine threat going forward. In recent games (apart from the second-half on Tuesday), they have had a lot of the ball without looking like threatening the opposition. They could break down the Leeds defence from both sides and down the middle. It was refreshing to see.
All the goals were very well taken and displays of the attacking prowess that has been hiding at home. There was some excitement from the off that had been missing for too long too. It was refreshing to see.
Chris Martin’s opener was fantastic. His advance forward and combination with Craig Bryson puzzled the Leeds back four. The second, through Johnny Russell, came via a Martin assist – again, excellent stuff from Derby.
There was fluid football throughout from the Rams, a pleasure to watch. It was a reminder of how good Derby can be on home soil.
The Whites’ late first-half goal did demonstrate that there is still work to do with the defence. Lee Grant rushed out to try and meet a ball pumped into the box. He was caught out – when a ‘keeper comes out, they have to be sure they’ll claim the ball (not in this instance). The ball was headed away from Grant and into the centre, where it was met by the alert Jason Pearce.
It seemed like a bad time to concede but it didn’t prove to be that. Derby came back out on top and didn’t get themselves sucked into much pressure. The back four and the ever-brilliant Eustace toughened up and allowed the other players to, instead of being completely behind the ball, get forward and look to add to the lead.
Will Hughes’s goal helped put further daylight between the sides, it was a super right-footed finish and run into the box from the youngster.
The feel-good factor around the ground was exciting to see from the players and supporters. Steve McClaren’s start to life in the Derby hot-seat has got off to a wonderful start. It was very rare that I ever noticed him on the touchline. His number two Paul Simpson was the main touchline presence.
Craig Bryson and Chris Martin were among the best performers of the day, along with Will Hughes. The Scotsman was the provider of two of the goals. In a role where he can get forward, he is very effective – as his midfield counterpart Hughes. Ex-Canary Martin was a real handful for Leeds, reminiscent of his early season form.
The cream of the crop was midfielder John Eustace. He is proving to be the best piece of summer business so far; a free transfer from Watford. Like Tuesday, he gave Hughes and Bryson more freedom and swept up the crumbs of Leeds’s advances. The ex-Hornets skipper is going to be instrumental under the stewardship of McClaren.
Return of the Mac was played on the ground tannoy. His return has certainly sparked a surge in performances but, unfortunately, it’s the international break now. I’d rather watch the Rams play like that again than watch England. You can’t beat club football.
10 in a row is a record that’s almost unheard of. How much must Leeds United fear us? Anyone for 11 in a row on the final day of the season at Elland Road, coupled with promotion?
Twitter – @NathansRamsBlog