Leeds 1-1 Derby
It was quite a poor game from a Rams’ perspective and a draw was probably a little harsh on Leeds United, who gave the match a real go.
The important thing was simply getting through the game with a fully fit squad and getting a work-out ahead of the play-offs. Every box can be ticked in that respect.
Predictably, some changes were made to the starting XI. Six changes in total. Out went Buxton, Bryson, Thorne, Martin, Russell and Ward. In came Whitbread, Hughes, Eustace, Sammon, Dawkins and Bamford. Such wholesale changes highlight the depth pf the squad. On paper the side seemed strong enough to continue the spectacular run of form against Leeds.
Derby began the game on the front foot and got an early goal. Neat work down the left side found Hendrick who saw his shot saved. Dawkins was alert to score a tap-in. The 3,000 strong away contingent exploded into delight. It seemed like the game was destined to be another routine win over the Yorkshire side.
Following the goal, the Rams were comfortable and kept the ball well. However, Leeds soon responded and began to pressurise. Lee Grant was called into action many times and every decision he made was spot on. The ‘keeper has improved hugely since Eric Steele arrived, he seems much more decisive than he was at the beginning of the campaign. His decisions and saves yesterday make him my Rams man of the match.
Leeds ended the half as the better side and began the second 45 as the better side. Smith, probably the liveliest of the home players, got the deserved equaliser. Aside from short spells, Leeds controlled the second period.
It was only when Mason Bennett was introduced that Derby looked like grabbing a winner. The youngster began running at the defence but had few options. Both Bryson and Russell were brought on just shy of the 90, not enough time to make any impact. Ten minutes earlier and something could have happened.
The final whistle was probably met relief from the home fans. It’s been another disappointing season. I don’t think McDermott will be there next season, and what about their prized asset McCormack?
A poorly attempted pitch invision from a few Leeds fans over to our right was oppressed by some bouncer-like stewards in suits.
Some of the away side stayed on the pitch to view the scores up on the ground’s screen. Results meant it is to be Brighton as the play-off opponents. Personally I quite fancy us against the Seagulls over two legs. The Rams have done the double over them this season.
Anyway, looking back on the game today, it was abundantly clear how much Martin’s presence was missed. Sammon, in his place, led the line very poorly, didn’t win many balls at all and got forward quite slowly. Is it time to cut the losses? I think so, regardless of the division.
Overall, the performance wasn’t great, but I’m sure things will be stepped up for the play-offs. It wouldn’t have been easy to get up for this game.
Let’s get started on the play-offs. Brighton have every reason to be afraid of the in form Rams. I am confident. Come on you Rams!