We are starting a new feature here on Vital Rams and it gives the chance of a far-flung fan to give their view on the performance by the Rams in their latest game. Please read the thoughts of MadAmster and then leave your rating for each individual Rams player, including subs:
A master class and a half. It all started at half time on Saturday, having been outplayed by the Blades for all but the opening 5 minutes of the half. The team went back to the dressing room and Frank and Jody disappeared into a side room to discuss their 2nd half strategy. Quite simply, in possession, have the wide men go right to the touchline. That pulls 2 of the opposition’s back 3 very wide leaving oodles of space in the centre for onrushing midfielders to exploit. It worked a treat in the 2nd half on Saturday and it worked for most of the game at WBA. Looking forward, Boro also employ a back 3. Will Pulis stick with it or will he take account of Derby’s tactics in the last game and a half?
First half they had a chance early doors then, when a Derby attack broke down in the 10th minute, WBA attempted to play it along the back line with the intention of playing it through the midfield. All 4 midfielders were covered but the forward pass was attempted anyway. Cue Derby to press and harry, an under-hit back pass under pressure towards the WBA keeper was the result and Jack Marriott pounced and hit it first time into the net. 3 starts, 3 goals. I expressed doubts about his first few substitute appearances but added that he had arrived not fit and hopefully, once fit, he would show why we bought him. He is fit and is doing just that.
5 minutes later Derby’s tactics paid off again. Massed pressing at the right time saw us take the ball of WBA and we had 5 or 6 players inside their half, attacking. A slick 3 or 4 passes saw Lawrence jink into the area, beat a man and put his shot just beyond the reach of the keeper and just inside the right-hand post.
The rest of the half was to and fro, both sides giving the ball away too often for anybody’s liking. On 39 minutes I came to a partially wrong conclusion. That they had had more ball but that we had had more real chances. I checked on the BBC site and we had had 51% possession. That surprised me. We had had 9 shots to their 5 with respectively 5 and 1 on target. That was how I had read the game.
The 2nd half was almost a repeat of the 1st. I expected them to come out of the blocks quickly and had been made aware by the Sky commentator and the analyst that WBA had scored 15 of their 20 home goals so far this season in the 2nd half. It wasn’t so. Again, a lot of passes going astray and Derby creating the better chances up to the last 15 when WBA seemed to go shit or bust and outlasted the Rams. Something which hasn’t happened so far this season.
On 51 minutes Wilson scored a cracker following a good move. On 71 minutes Malone made a last-ditch wonder tackle inside the 6-yard box and seconds later, he had galloped upfield, passed to Bennett who passed it back to him and Malone got past the defence and slotted home #4 for almost his last act in the match. He was replaced by Forsyth.
After that WBA chased their pride and got a consolation goal and forced a couple of very good saves from Carson and Derby might have had more as well. It could easily have been 4-7 but 1-4 is sufficient.
Just 2 days to recuperate before going to Boro on Saturday lunchtime for a 3rd successive Sky game. Will it be 3 wins on the trot against promotion rivals? We will have to wait and see. However, following the huge efforts put in against the Blades and the Baggies, I expect 2 or 3 changes for the Boro game for no other reason than healthy rotation.
Carson – 7 – Had a very good game, made some vital saves
Bogle – 7 – after 2 shaky games almost back to his best
Keogh – 7 – Solid as a rock
Tomori – 7 – Solid as a rock
Malone – 8 – How good was that? Defensively sound and good going forward. That save followed immediately by a romp upfield, an exchange of passes with Bennett and he scores. Magic.
Wilson – 7 – Looked like he had played the “Bryson role” all his life. Assured on the ball. Tracking back and lethal in attack. Another cracking goal. Benefitted in this “new” position from not being constantly double and triple teamed and knocked off the ball
Huddlestone – 9 – Majestic. He has all these quality young lads around him to do the running for him. He just rules the centre of the pitch and either starts attacks for us or puts a stop to theirs.
Mount – 8 – What can you say about the lad. He attacks, he defends, he tackles, he works and he stopped one on the line again.
Waghorn – 6 – Runs around, does his work but there is little or no end product
Marriott – 8 Brilliant goal, great work rate, good football. He has made the ‘9 role his own.
Lawrence – 8 – His best game for a while. Brilliant goal, great work rate, good football.
Subs – Bennett seems to have benefitted from the rest from playing. Good cameo, apart from the one-shot blazed over the top. Bennett comes on, gets an assist. Situation normal.
Nugent was, well, Nugent. Did what Nugent does and did it well. Great header on to Bennett for that shot.
Forsyth was only on 10 minutes but didn’t weaken the defence
I don’t normally but, for this game, at any rate, a word about the opposition. Most teams would have folded at 0-4 but they didn’t. Fair play to them. They kept at it and, although a clean sheet would have been great, they deserved to get what proved to be no more than a consolation goal. They won’t get so clinically treated the rest of the season at home. Their spirit has Darren Moore written all over it.