Derby Day Delight

After 2 seasons of, well, I admit it, failure against Derby, Forest have turned it round to result in a victory in a game that always feels like it comes at vital moments in a season.

For instance this game came on the back of a run of games where we had toiled to get draws. Losing in the Capital One Cup, although no exactly painful still sits on the mind. Had we lost this game, form would start to look questionable. And with the prospect of two long away trips before the international break, it had all the possibility to turn the season the wrong way. Last season’s defeat felt like a big setback and 2 years under McClaren, well it took the wind from the sails of what might have been another kind of season.

So for me, this game felt higher stakes.

We all know the result, all know the scorer, I’m not going to break ground there, but hat surprised me, is that although Derby often looked dangerous on the attack, the seemed to almost go out of this game with a whimper. I’ve only ever seen Hughes against Forest and each time he has flattered to deceive.

We made changes, enforced changes. Moussi in the midfield, Chalobah out through injury. This both worried me and gave a new sense of what would happen as Moussi does have awful distribution and is prone to terrible errors of judgement. That said, with him in place the midfield had shape. The dynamic down the left with Reid, Majewski and Cohen was in place. With Moussi out and Cohen into midfield, and Harding on the left, it was still there at times, but just not quite firing in the same way. Collins was in for Wilson (and ultimately for Halford)

What was apparent is at set pieces Derby had clearly set their stall out defend against Henderson as the aerial threat. That’s the only way I can begin to describe the way that they completely ignored Hobbs, who despite his large frame went through the area unmarked and headed home with what would be the only goal of the game. It was absolutely criminal defending, and had they not being so obsessed with pulling Henderson’s shirt all over and stop him jumping they may have remembered other aerial threats exist.

The penalty was an interesting incident as from my seat I have near the back of the Trent End, anything that happens like that at the other end is hard to pick out and I haven’t seen the goals back. But Derby going down to 10 men is not always the best plan. I of course refer to 2 years ago and the whole “we only had 10 men” game. The resulting penalty was saved, and at this point I was worried. We should have buried the game there and then, instead there was this outside chance of hope, buoyed by the penalty save.

Indeed Derby had chances. Hughes with a free kick, and Sammon as their human battering ram. But their main worry all game for me, and always is when we play them was Jamie Ward, he’s just that hateful little figure of a player who antagonises and I could see him doing something. So I was delighted when they withdrew him.

Reid had a glorious one on one right at the death, and 2-0 would have been probably the right result, but it was saved. Henderson had earlier missed a glorious headed opportunity to finish, but his header went way off target.

A word on a number of players. Collins was superb, and it’s that kind of showing we bought him for. Henderson toiled as the target man, and for much was an aerial target after we shifted dynamic with Moussi out. Although he missed a gilt edge header and the penalty he worried Derby. Harding did his job when he came on, but Abdoun didn’t seem as confident when he came into action. Lansbury in the deeper role had a quieter game.

The win of course has since seen Nigel Clough dismissed and hilarious McClaren bought in. Maybe it will work out, but evidence from his last Championship job suggests otherwise. With Middlesbrough where he had success he had cash to spend. We know what he did with us, failed at Wolfsburg, Twente (in his second spell) and of curse England. This could be his last chance of a vestige of saving face in England.