Another 1-0 win, this time over Eddie Howe’s organised AFC Bournemouth side at the iPro.
The team news made for disappointing reading with Craig Bryson and Jamie Ward both sitting the match out due to injury.
Bryson is the engine and catalyst for everything good about Derby’s midfield play, that was telling in the first 45. Jeff Hendrick, in the Scotsman’s place, almost watched the game pass him by.
Tremendous credit must go to the way the away side set out. They got in the Rams’ faces, made some good interceptions and stopped Derby from playing.
Defensive lapses worried the home faithful as the away side went into the interval unlucky not to be ahead. Something had to give at half-time, it couldn’t go on.
Again, bold substitutions upped Derby’s tempo. Steve McClaren’s changes have had a massive effect since his arrival. John Eustace made way for Simon Dawkins and Patrick Bamford made way for Conor Sammon. The two attack-minded subs gave the ascendancy to the hosts.
Finally, the Rams were on the front foot but they tested the tolerance of their fans. Chris Martin seemed especially ineffective leading the line – or so I thought.
Will Hughes was judged to have been tripped on the edge of the box five minutes from time. After watching a reply, no foul was committed and Derby were fortunate but, when you’re running forward with the ball at the opponents and mounting the pressure, you make your own luck. Chris Martin took the free-kick, much to my surprise as I can’t recall him taking one before, and fired home with a wonderful drive to send the ground wild.
Dawkins was very good when he came on, Will Hughes also had a good outing but my pick is definitely Johnny Russell. The Scot made some excellent runs and exchanges as they went in search of that elusive goal.
Lee Camp, as ever, got the attention of the Derby fans on another visit to his hometown. The ex-Red managed to earn himself a deserved yellow card when his protests over a foul went too far with his arms flailing at the referee.
It was good to hear the attendance at the healthy figure of 27,306 but most pleasing was the victory after not being near their best, just like at Hillsborough. It’s been said time and time again, that is a massive promotion credential.
Elsewhere, Burnley beat Forest 3-1 at Turf Moor, etching next week’s visit to the Clarets up a notch. Are the wheels falling off Billy’s promotion wagon? QPR were defeated at Charlton, a good result for Derby as the Rs do have a game in hand over McClaren’s army.
Up The Rams!