No joy for Rams down the Holloway Road but no need for the blues…
4th October 2014
Derby County 0 Millwall 0
The Rams missed the chance to move to the top of the Championship as Millwall stuck to their disciplined game plan at the iPro for the second season in a row, though unlike last season, the Lions left with a single point rather than the three they smuggled away in March.
The Rams are unbeaten in the last ten games now and we sit in 4th place just one point off top – all very positive – but there was an undeniable sense of frustration after this game both at the way at which Millwall managed to neuter our normal incisive play and over the chance missed to sit at the top of the table.
This is understandable and reflects the high expectations that surround the Rams now, both from us as fans but also from the heightened media profile we enjoy thanks to the terrific year we have enjoyed since the return of the McC.
There is much to be positive about though and 12pts from the last six games since the last international break is a good return considering those fixtures included games Vs. Forest, Blackburn & Cardiff that were seen beforehand as a serious test of promotion credentials.
We looked off the pace yesterday, lacking the tempo that makes us such a good team and, most tellingly, we did not create many chances, something that we are consistently very good at.
Steve McLaren talked of tiredness being a factor and bemoaned the lack of quality in the final third. Certainly Craig Forsyth’s crosses and attacking verve were missing in action but he was far from alone in being off the boil.
We got one favourable decision early on when some referees (particularly some we have seen) may well have given Millwall a penalty for the challenge by Cyrus Christie but equally the contact on Jordan Ibe by keeper David Forde was deserving of a penalty rather than a yellow card for the winger. The “why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” routine from Chris Martin as he muscled into the Millwall players giving young Jordan grief was entertaining though.
Was Best best to bring on? Second guessing coaching decisions is the easiest game in the world for fans but I did wonder if the game needed a bit more Ivan Calero rather than a dash of Leon Best to shake things up.
I am concerned that either the way the on loan centre forward plays is not suited to our style or vice-versa. (This seemed the case with Patrick Bamford too, but with him there is the consolation of goals)
Whichever one it is doesn’t really matter but he is struggling to make an impact and we are so reliant on Chris Martin as centre forward to make our style work that the thought of an of an injury lay off for our number 9 sends a shudder down the spine.
Another international break is here and our next game is on 18th October away at Reading followed by a trip to the seaside at Blackpool. A home game against Wigan, a trip to Brentford and home games against Huddersfield and Wolves (as well as our League Cup game away at Fulham) form a packed 21 days that lead up to the next break in November.
This is the part of the season where momentum can be established and it is important that as we come to the next break in fixtures in the dark nights and Christmas adverts of November that we are still in the leading pack in the dog fight that we know and love as the Championship.