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22nd November

Watford      1                           Derby County      2

Gianni Munari 67                       Jordan Ibe 39

                                                 Craig Bryson 81

It’s often said that the sign of a good team is that they find a way to win even against the tide. Well, this team of ours showed more signs of being a good team after Craig Bryson’s thundering effort into the top corner nine minutes from time sealed an excellent away win for the Rams.

Thanks to the international break it felt an age since “proper” football had been played. This international break, though, has been more interesting than many from a Derby fan’s point of view.

Will Hughes & Jack Butland played for England U-21, Chris Martin started his first game for Scotland against England, Johnny Russell made his debut in the same game creating Scotland’s goal, Jeff Hendrick, Richard Keogh & Cyrus Christie all played for the Republic of Ireland while Simon Dawkins played three games as Jamaica lifted the Caribbean Cup.

Dawkins return only on Friday from his travels led to the one change for the Rams from the wonderful performance against Wolves two weeks ago as Jordan Ibe took his place in the team.

Derby kept possession well at the start of the game and following early corners Jeff Hendrick came very close to putting us into the lead, a shot from the edge of the area being turned by Jonathan Bond’s fingertips onto the post and away.

Watford took a defensive, players behind the ball, approach probably mindful of the Rams threat as they played a deep and less aggressive game than typical from the Hornets at home. There was still danger in their play, though, and it took a terrific challenge by Ryan Shotton to prevent Fernando Forestieri breaking through, a fine save from Jack Butland to keep out a drive from Troy Deeney and on the half hour and a tremendous tackle from Craig Forsyth to deny Forestieri when he looked clean through.

Derby’s patience and persistence paid off with a wonderful goal from Jordan Ibe as the first half drew to a close, taking the ball on his chest from assist master supreme Johnny Russell on the corner of the area; he cut away and curled in a beautiful shot to give the Rams the lead

 Matys Vydra’s introduction at half time for Watford signalled a change of intent from the home team and Derby struggled to hold onto the ball as the game moved into the second half, Omar Mascarell unable to influence the game as he has shown he can do and Will Hughes being starved of the ball. There was, however, a great chance for Chris Martin to put the game beyond Watford’s reach when he found himself clear against the goalkeeper but was unable to fashion a clinical strike.

The increasing sense of the game shifting solidified in 67th minute when Watford equalised through a smart move that cut through the Rams back line and saw Gianni Munari fire into the roof of the net.

At this point the game had a similar feel to the Brentford match as we lost control of a winning situation and saw less and less of the ball as the game drew on, Watford piling on the pressure and Jack Butland being increasingly busy.

A different outcome today though. Sometimes you see a player shaping for an effort from way out and you think…..”naaah”…..but on this occasion with nine minutes to go sub Craig Bryson on for Will Hughes smashed in a terrific shot to grab the three points. Watford did put us under some pressure before the final whistle but we defended well and played out the last minute or so at the Watford end of the pitch which is always the best way to see out a win.

A terrific win then, inflicting Watford’s first home defeat of the season and moving us 3pts clear at the top. Good to see how increasingly at home and solid Ryan Shotton is looking at the back, providing a good mixture of pace and strength which bodes well. Next up that always eye catching game….Leeds United.