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15th August

Derby County          1          Chris Martin 68

Charlton Athletic    1          Tony Watt 48

The first home league game of the season saw the Rams create numerous chances in a game they dominated against the visiting Charlton.

There was only Chris Martin’s first goal of the season to show for it though and a single point was the outcome after the Addicks had taken the lead early in the second half by way of Tony Watt’s deflected strike.

Disappointment at the result is tempered though by the Rams performance. A little slow at the outset, the Rams controlled long periods of the game and played with the precision and skill we have become used to over the last two seasons.

Control through the midfield was down to George Thorne and Jamie Hanson who both had excellent games.

Home grown Hanson was one of three changes to the team from the one that drew at Bolton last week along with Jeff Hendrick and Craig Forsyth replacing the injured Will Hughes and Craig Bryson, Stephen Warnock stepping down to the bench.

Unlike last Saturday we lined up in the old familiar 4-3-3 and I was interested to see how Hanson would flourish in the more creative role in midfield as opposed to the holding role.

Well he shone.

This fella can really pass a ball and his repertoire of long and short passes was superb. He was also tigerish in the tackle and put himself about well.

Understandably he seemed to fade towards the end of the game, not helped by a heavy tackle he was on the receiving end of, but his assist for Chris Martin’s goal was neat and incisive and he can be well pleased with his performance.

George Thorne was even more impressive. Starts circulating in the twittersphere after the game point out that he was the only player to make more than a 100 passes in the Championship and all at a success rate of 97%.

The bare stats don’t tell the whole story though; Thorne bossed the midfield, was always available to accept the ball, set the attacking tempo with some superb passes and also snuffed out any number of Charlton moves.

He is one hell of a player and it is great to see him playing.

The only thing he should desist from are tackles like the one on the edge of the Addicks area with 15 minutes to go that left him on the turf and had most of the crowd ignoring the game and watching him gingerly get to his feet and get moving again…..we just do not need that kind of stress…

Charlton are a decent side and will do well this season. Despite our dominance they also had a couple of chances, Simon Makienok heading over from a corner when well placed and also pulling a shot wide of goal from 12 yards out.

For much of the game though they were on the back foot as the Rams probed and created, moving the ball around with ease. In the first half Chris Martin missed a decent chance after a piece of trickery from Tom Ince and Jeff Hendrick (having a busy game) shot just wide from the edge of the area.

The Rams could easily have scored twice within the first minute of the second half but then found themselves a goal down when a shot from the lively Tony Watt spiralled off Richard Keogh past a wrong footed Scott Carson.

Derby responded well and keeper Nick Pope made excellent saves from Thorne, Martin and Ince around the equaliser which Martin finished well, turning and shooting into the corner following Hanson’s precise pass.

The goal seemed to perk Martin up, he had looked a little off his normal best in the first half but was much more involved afterwards.

We could have won, would have won on other days but the performance was good.

Charlton deserve credit for a dogged defensive performance, I lost count of the number of our shots from in and around the area that they blocked.

Our defence looks so much better with Shackell, Carson and Baird; Richard Keogh had an excellent game and looks much more settled next to Shackell, reminding us of the good defender he is.

Baird and Forsyth got forward well from the full back positions and there was even time for a cameo from Cyrus Christie, providing an attacking threat when Hanson was substituted in the last five minutes.

I thought the flags in the South Stand (as promoted and organised by @DCFC1884Support) looked great and I do prefer us shooting towards the South Stand in the second half as we did in this game.

A big test next game as Middlesbrough come to town on Tuesday night. We owe them a result.

                                                        P       GD    Pts

13     Burnley                                    2       0       2

14    Cardiff City                                2       0       2

15     Derby County                          2       0       2

16     Leeds United                           1       0       1