The Rams have the opportunity to move clear at the top of the Championship tonight with a victory against Colchester United at Pride Park (7.45pm). The game is live on Sky TV and Billy Davies will be hoping to send a message out to the rest of the league with a comprehensive performance. The Rams showed good signs last week at Sunderland, only to be left with nothing with the injury-time winner, but a victory is vital with the top eight clubs in the league are only split by five points.
Davies is eager to return to winning ways, but knows the result will not mean a return to the Premiership. He said: ‘A win on Friday will give us three good points if we can get them, but it matters not where you sit in the division at this stage of the season – there are no medals being handed out yet.
‘I would take a 1-0 win against Colchester – in fact I would take seven or eight 1-0 wins between now and the end of the season because I do believe if we can do that, we will not be too far away with regards to automatic promotion.
‘It is a great challenge and it will be difficult for us with lots of twists and turns, but at least we are there or thereabouts and fighting for to go up.’
The Rams have suffered back-to-back defeats in the Championship and a former Rams favourite is plotting to heap more misery on the Rams in front of the TV cameras.
It`s a return of former Rams favourite Geraint Williams tonight, the manger of the U`s spent seven years at the Baseball ground, and he is hoping to spoil the party tonight. Williams is confident his Colchester side will ‘rise to the occasion’ and take three points from his former club on Friday night.
‘We’ve got 52 points and we want to come out of that game with 55.’ said Williams.
‘It should be a great game in front of the cameras – the lads seem to like playing on the television, they usually rise to the occasion and hopefully they will do the same again.’
Last time out Williams was
Derby County Team News:
Derby midfielder Stephen Pearson has been ruled out of the game with foot and ankle problems. Also centre-back Dean Leacock has a broken hand and will not be risked and Richard Jackson (knee) and Paul Boertien (calf) are out. But after coming off the bench last week and performing well Giles Barnes should start the match.
Player to watch: Giles Barnes
He will be a man on a mission tonight after a number press reports in the week. He impressed at Sunderland coming off the bench, we all hope he delivers again tonight at Pride Park.
Colchester United Team News:
Colchester could name an unchanged side as they have no new injury or suspension worries to play Derby.
Striker Marino Keith remains the U’s only injury absentee with a long-term Achilles problem.
Player to watch: Jamie Cureton
He scored a hat-trick against the Rams this season, and will want to add to that tonight. He has scored 14 goals for the Os this season and his partnership with fellow strikers Chris Iwelumo and Australian Richard Garcia will really test the Rams.
Last time we met
Colchester 4 Derby 3
Don’t be fooled by the score line. This was another nightmare at Layer Road for long and excruciating periods of the game. Derby County’s previous trip to Colchester saw them embarrassed in the FA Cup. Surely lessons would be learned from that painful January afternoon. No chance, Derby were equally as bad if not worse.
They trailed 4-1 with 10 minutes remaining and the only surprise was how Colchester were not six or seven ahead. Late goals from Arturo Lupoli, his second of the game, and substitute Paul Peschisolido put an undeserved and flattering coat of gloss on the 4-3 defeat.
Derby kept going, for which they deserve a pat on the back, but the late flurry was more down to the home side becoming edgy as they could taste their first points of the Championship campaign.
Colchester had lost all four of their League fixtures before facing the Rams and had been dumped out of the Carling Cup by MK Dons.
And yet a team fluffing their lines following promotion found little difficulty in scoring four to give ex-Rams favourite Geraint Williams his first win as manager.
While a relieved Williams was all smiles at the end, Billy Davies scowled his way through the post-match inquest.
Glaring defensive deficiencies left him angry, frustrated and no doubt surprised after successive clean sheets against Norwich and Stockport. The back four, individually and as a unit, had a dreadful time.
Dean Leacock did well in patches during his first start but there were occasions when the centre-back looked out of position in the right-back slot.
But defending is a team responsibility, something the midfield failed to grasp. Derby left Layer Road with exactly what they deserved – nothing.
Colchester United: Davison, Halford, Baldwin, Brown, Barker, Garcia, Izzet, Watson, Duguid, Iwelumo, Cureton
Subs: Guy (for Iwelumo, 79), White (for Cureton, 83), Richards, King,
I know we need a victory but I have a felling it will be a draw tonight.
Derby County 2 Colchester United 2