The Rams go into Wednesday nights clash against Stoke City without key defender Darren Moore, who will serve a one-match ban after being sent off on Saturday. But the row over his red card at Plymouth Argyle rumbles on, with Billy Davies fuming over the incident.
The big central defender has been in great form, along with his partner in the heart of the defence Dean Leacock, as the Rams climbed clear at the top of the Championship table. They have kept five clean sheets in Derby’s seven-match unbeaten run in the League.
Moore was captain on Saturday, and the armband curse came back to haunt him, as the usual skipper Matt Oakley was also suspended. His first yellow card, after 62 minutes, followed a lunge on Plymouth skipper Lilian Nalis, but three minutes later he collected a second from referee Mike Dean for an off-the-ball clash with Kevin Gallen. It left the Rams, already 1-0 down, a mountain to climb, and down to ten men for the final 25 minutes it was a forlorn task.
Already trailing to Gallen’s first-half penalty, Scott Sinclair headed a second six minutes from the end to put Plymouth into the quarter-finals for only the second time in their history. Not taking anything away from Plymouth they deserved to go through to the next round, but the Rams were getting on top in the game when Moore was dismissed.
Not surprisingly, both parties have differing views of the incident. Moore says nothing happened in his clash with Gallen and the Plymouth striker went down too easily. But Gallen disagrees, insisting he was fouled. ‘I didn’t dive,’ he added.
Davies is not convinced, and the Rams boss, who is in trouble with the league over an incident at Southend earlier in the season, showed a great deal of restraint with a number of controversial decisions during the game, the Rams manager said: ‘We all know Darren Moore.
“The first thing I said to him was ‘tell me what happened’ and what happened is a very experienced player in Kevin Gallen has come back and banged into Moore and gone down.
‘Darren is claiming nothing happened and the referee is saying he sent the player off for persistent fouling.
‘Darren is a very honest player and the situation is as he is telling me, that Gallen has conned the referee and we have lost an important player at a very important time.’
Gallen, who is on loan from Queens Park Rangers, disagreed with Davies` view.
He said: ‘He didn’t see it, did he? If he didn’t see it, how can he comment?
‘I was there, he fouled me and the linesman saw it. He had just fouled me a couple of minutes before, down the right wing. He was living on borrowed time with his continued fouling.
‘Have you seen the size of Darren Moore? If he runs into you, you’re not going to stand up.
‘I`m trying to run for the ball, he blocked my run. The man’s about 20 stone. He’s like a WWF star. I couldn’t stand up.’
Unfortunately the club and the player cannot appeal against a sending-off for two yellow cards. Davies has viewed the video from the game and he has to be careful with his pending case. But he said: ‘All I’ll say is that the players were still debating the decisions in the dressing room afterwards. They felt the penalty decisions were soft.
‘I`ve got to say that I was a little bit surprised on the touchline.
‘We`ve conceded four penalties in our last two matches at Plymouth. The first game was controversial and again, I think this game was.’
Davies felt Derby had a strong claim for a penalty in the second half when Plymouth defender Marcel Seip lifted both arms to block Jon Macken’s volley.
He added: ‘When a player raises his arms in the box and blocks the ball, it’s a penalty. The lad raised two arms and the ball hit his hand and that was at a crucial point in the game.’
At the end of the day the Rams are out of the cup and now can concentrate on the league. I`m sure Davies will have the side ready for the visit of Stoke City on Wednesday and will hope to quickly forget the Home Park – ‘Video nasty`.