Derby County 3 Huddersfield Town 2
Jordan Ibe 7 Harry Bunn 22
Johnny Russell 45 Mark Hudson 90 + 4
Simon Dawkins 77
The Rams got back to winning ways in the Championship after this fluid and flowing game ending Huddersfield’s seven game unbeaten run in the process.
Mark Hudson’s last gasp consolation for the Terriers made the score line look closer than the balance of play suggested but despite the entertaining football on show Derby’s defence again showed frailties and conceded two goals for the fourth game on the trot.
Those six consecutive clean sheets suddenly seem a long time ago.
The Rams made three changes from the team beaten at Brentford Jake Buxton and Simon Dawkins dropping to the bench and Craig Bryson missing out through injury. Will Hughes, Ryan Shotton and Jordan Ibe started on what felt like the first real winter game of the season as the temperature dropped.
In contrast to the game against Wigan we started sharply from the off and Jordan Ibe almost opened the scoring within a couple of minutes, his fierce drive beating Alex Smithies but being headed off the line in athletic fashion by Joel Lynch.
Our first goal was not delayed for long though as Ibe combined well with Jeff Hendrick who turned smartly in the box and played Ibe in for a smart finish.
It was good to see Will Hughes back in the team and he is most often at the heart of our creativity when he plays. If we are to win promotion this season we need him on the pitch as much as possible.
Omar Mascarell started again instead of John Eustace and he did roll out some crisp incisive passing as well as working hard across and up and down the pitch, but we were careless on the ball too often and the young loanee was prone to trying to force a pass rather than turning and taking the easier option and consequently giving the ball away.
Jordan Ibe & Johnny Russell worked hard throughout the first half to trying and create what felt like an important second goal but too often the final touch of the attack fell short or too long.
The Rams switched off at the back half way through the half and Cyrus Christie lost Harry Bunn allowing him to fire past Jack Butland and apart from a Nakhi Wells effort that Butland turned past the post that was the only clear chance that Huddersfield had created.
The Rams smuggled a goal just before half time to confound the early pint queue poachers – Chris Martin being played in, admittedly looking offside ….but he wasn’t – Alex Smithies made a good save and the ball fell to Johnny Russell who rolled it into the net, looking well offside……but he wasn’t. Cue 1000 or so grumpy Yorkshire fans making the displeasure known at the half time whistle.
This was a much more open game than the one against Wigan and much better to watch – but also scary at times as our habit of making things difficult for ourselves at the back always gave Huddersfield a sniff.
We have to get that solidity and organisation at the back again particularly with games against promotion contenders coming up, but we may be missing Lee Grant much more than we imagine.
Johnny Russell continued his work ethic into the second half and fashioned a chance for himself to make it 3-1 but was foiled by Smithies. He was replaced, to a standing ovation, by Simon Dawkins who within minutes smartly put away a crisp shot from the edge of the area.
We probably should have made it 4-1 for the possession we had but Huddersfield are a decent team and Jack Butland was forced into two sharp saves as the game moved to a close. The lack of concentration at a corner to allow Huddersfield’s second was annoying but the Terriers never gave up and were a credit to their manager.
Talking of which it was a pleasure to see Chris Powell on the sidelines for this game and the affection and respect he is held in at Derby (rightfully so) even after a decade was plain to see. Admittedly the fact that we were winning the game late on made it easier for the Rams fans to serenade him, but even so….a nice touch.
Incidentally there was another example of what a top bloke Chris Powell is after the game when discussing Johnny Russell’s goal he said;
“We conceded again just before half-time with what looked like a controversial goal at the time but I have seen it since and Martin was not offside, the officials got it spot on.”
How often do you hear a manager saying that? – Pretty much never….
Chris Powell – classy guy…