No Rams Raid for Trotters
Date: Monday 1st October 2007After our dismal start to the campaign we had picked up a little of late with a draw in unknown territory, a ground out home draw against those multi-million pound champions league hopefuls Spurs and an extra time win at Fulham with most of our 2nd XI.
So the game against the only team in the division below us in Derby County brought much hope we could overcome them with a win and our turnaround would be complete, Kevin Nolan would be subject to bows by the away following and Sammy Lee would have a statue erected outside the main entrance at the Reebok in his honour. Well maybe.
After setting off fairly early we approached Derby but were struggling to locate the ground due to very bad signposting, things were looking worse when I stopped to ask an old lady directions and she screamed them at me at 60,000 decibels due to her hard of hearing, as I walked away rubbing my now sore ears I wondered if she had give me directions to the old Baseball Ground but sure enough we got there 5 minutes later and parked up with time for a beer in the nearby pub.
After getting into the ground I checked my seat out and something eerie hit me, I have been here before but it was quite a few moons ago, it felt like I had been here more recently, when we were on the end of a 5-1 drubbing. It soon hit me just how much of a replica this ground is of The Riverside Stadium. The chill went down my spine thinking of that particular away day and, somewhat dazed, I staggered down to the concourse to watch Citeh complete their win over Allardyce's new charges on a fuzzy tv.
After the teams came out it was underway and the first 15 minutes were tentative, nails were being shredded, Gardner was infuriatingly giving the ball away, Diouf and Anelka weren't getting involved enough, Meite slipped to nearly let them in, but they weren't doing much better till just before the 20 minute mark Steve Howard got away from his marker and hit the ball across the box for Kenny Miller to turn in nicely. Arse. The Derby faithful went mad and the grumbles began in the away section. Practically straight from kick off Anelka hit a flying shot that went not too far wide but for the next 10 minutes we pressed as they sat back but never threatened in any way until on 31 minutes, Anelka got some space beyond the half way line and came forward, one-two with Davo, he makes some more space and bang!.....deflection...goal! yes a bit of luck but who cares, 1-1 and game on.
The rest of the half firmly belonged to us, they were sitting back more and more and we played some nice football but couldn't provide a cutting edge to carve out a chance, the one we did get was gifted to us and Nolan tried to score from a 0.0000000001 degree angle rather than square it to Davies, dang!
Second half started different, Derby came out of the traps well, harrying and closing down and we couldn't keep the ball, Miller squandered two chances, one very well kept out by Jussi's leg.
A few minutes later and the first of the subs came about, Wilhelmsson on for Davies who had played well but probably hit fatigue after his midweek exploits, we started to edge our way back in
Another sub as Speed who has also played a good shift at central midfield came off for Gavin McCann. Then came a simple throw in from the left caught Derby asleep and Wilhelmsson got into the box for a half chance but tamely hit straight at Steven Bywater, Nolan was waiting across from him on for a possible pass but strangely didn't scream at Willy for not playing it across the box, maybe because someone else did the same first half.
We were getting closer as an excellent Gardner cross (?!) was an inch away from Diouf connection for 2-1. You could sense we could win this...another change and a bold one. Braaten for Campo, 4-4-2 well and truly implemented and two wingers who could actually pull this off, the worry was Campo at right back argh!
But it was working well and we were dominating possession by this point, Anelka and Diouf finally showing some prominence in our attacks and we were putting their defenders under pressure, but alas they were coping well, with motm Claude Davis doing a fine job.
Our chance came and went with 13 minutes left, Wilhelmsson got free on the left and curled a shot toward goal which Bywater parried to Anelka, with most players you hope they square it back across box but Nico is a gifted player in fine form so he wound up the shot and cracked it toward goal, it looked for all the world the net would bulge but Bywater got something on it and the ball cracked the bar, came down, and Nolan couldn't get enough on the ball that had fell behind him to turn it over the line. Head in hands I knew that would probably be our best chance of getting the vital win.
After that were continued to come forward well but couldn't create anything of note, they rallied a little bit toward the very end but the final whistle blew with neither set of fans too happy, but our boys got a good applause off the pitch. Then we heard there had been 11 goals in another Premiership game, wish the god of football could have thrown just one of them our way eh?
Jussi - 7 - Couldn't have done owt with the goal and made a fine save second half
O'Brien - 7 - Didn't start too well but was pretty steady, think it's looking like lsl has penciled him in place of Hunt for the rb slot.
Meite - 7 - Apart from a few slips on the ground (sort your studs out lad), he dealt with them pretty well
O'Brien - 8 - Some good defending with regards to getting it clear when it needed to be, shame he just wasn't a bit bigger and more domineering
Campo - 8 - Second half much better than first half, even when we went to rb, the guys worked his hairdo off for us which shows there maybe is a place for him for tough away days like this rather than the games were he gets time and space to pass it around, hope he lasts the season better than last time if he is to become a prominent figure again.
Speed - 7 - Put a good shift in before being subbed with getting heavily involved and passing it about nicely enough, shame he didn't score the first goal as I had a quid on it at 16/1
Nolan - 6 - Isn't a 5 because he worked hard, but the guy just isn't making enough impact and no longer seems to have the weapon of scoring important goals. Lost the ball a few times and once again almost got put on his arse trying to challenge one of their players.
Diouf - 6 - Not one of his best days, was very poor and looked off the pace for 60 minutes, moved upfront after the subs were made and got more involved linking up well, here's hoping he can find that form he had when we beat Reading soon.
Davies - 7 - Didn't get much change out of Claude Davis in the air, but still was constantly involved in attacks keeping the ball at his feet on the ground and bringing other players in.
Anelka - 7 - Same as Diouf with lack of involvement till we went to 4-4-2, got lucky with the goal although did well to create the space for the shot, massively unlucky with the one that went against the bar
Wilhelmsson - 7 - Looked good when he came on, isn't a powderpuff winger by the looks of things, shame he didn't do better with that chance.
McCann - 7 - Had the unenvious job of running a two mad midfield with Nolan in the last 20 minutes, and did well enough.
Braaten - 6 - Added the desired effect of having two wingers behind Anelka and Diouf when he was the final sub, but didn't do quite enough with the ball despite being willingly involved.