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RZ Match Wrap: Rams See Off Rovers In Five Goal Thriller!
Thursday, 18th Sep 2014 13:14 by Daniel J Sewart

Statistics show that sporting teams consistently produce poor results following a local derby. The Rams have fallen to this curse over the years – but last night at Ewood Park they bucked the trend, producing one of their best performances of the season.

From the team that run out at Forest on Sunday, Steve McClaren brought back Jamie Ward, Cyrus Christie and Zak Whitbread in place of Johnny Russell, Ryan Shotton and the suspended Jake Buxton.

Things could not have started worse for The Rams who were looking to kick start their spluttering season – instead they found themselves a goal down with less than a minute played.

Blackburn’s Marshall was already in red hot form after scoring a brace in Rovers win over Wigan on the weekend - and after 51 seconds he added another to his season tally.

Amazingly he had already sent a volley over the bar from kick off and then shot again from distance, but this time producing a perfect result. Richard Keogh’s attempted to block the strike but his efforts resulted in the ball deflecting off him as he slid in, leaving Grant stranded and the ball ending up in the net.

You could be excused for thinking that Derby may self destruct after such intense match on Sunday, followed by an early blow in this clash but instead The Rams burst into life and showed the resilience that both players and manager have been talking about this week. Immediately the troops rallied and went on the attack, intent on getting things squared up again.

Blackburn have been in good form but one issue they have is that will always concede goals and Derby took advantage of that fact on 9 minutes when they made it 11 straight games that Rovers have not managed a clean sheet.

A probing run by Dawkins led to a crisp pass that found Bryson on the left of the area and as he burst into the area he cut the ball across goal (and 3 Rovers players), finding Ward unmarked and ready to smash it into the net from point blank range.

It was Ward’s 5th goal of the season and a reminder of what the Rams missed in Nottingham on the weekend, when his creativity and attacking mentality would have been invaluable. But the boy was back and never have we been happier to see him!

The game was playing into The Rams hands as it was open and flowing in nature which suits McClarens men best. When things get closed down and his team can’t get time on the ball – Derby seem to struggle but it was not a problem today as the likes of Ward, Dawkins, Hughes and Bryson were displaying their hard running and passing prowess.

Simon Dawkins was average at best on the weekend and in many minds was lucky to find himself starting again. One can assume this was pointed out to him by the coaches and was looking like he may have listened to their advice when he made a good run that resulted in Bryson receiving the ball and only just shooting over the bar as he connected with the pass.

Next up Craig’s midfield partner went one better and put the Rams ahead, as Will Hughes was fed by the everywhere man Ward, who from the left found space on the edge of the area. Hughes showed his class by switching the ball to his preferred left foot and unleashed his shot which left Robinson sprawling.

With 37 minutes gone - The Rams had reeled in and passed Rovers in impressive fashion. With half time approaching they now had to hang onto or preferably build on it as this 3 points seemed more important than perhaps it should have – not just for the confidence of the players but fans who needed to see the team still had ‘it’.

Will Hughes was beginning to run rampant as he pulled the strings in midfield and we all may look back on Jeff Hendrick’s injury as a blessing (sorry Jeff!!) because it seems with every game Will is growing into the responsibility of the role and showing he has what it takes to be a major part of the engine room.

Before half time Chris Martin nearly added a 3rd goal after a superb cross from Hughes dropped to him and his well hit volley only just sailed over the bar.

HT: 1 – 2

Rovers would have been looking to regroup at half time and they came out like a team determined to get back into the match as Gestede made Lee Grant earn his match payment - by forcing a good save from the Derby stopper.

Marshall’s bobbed up again searching for a second when he chipped the ball goal wards but instead of it dipping in it – it landed safely for the Rams on the roof of the net.

Blackburn and Derby were trading punches but none had landed from either side despite both teams looking capable of landing another blow if the opportunity arose.

In the end it was Derby that found their way through when Ward did would not take no for an answer - charging through Conway, bursting forward, throwing in a small dummy for good measure and then curling a sublime left foot shot into the corner of Blackburn’s goal on 58 minutes.

Two goals to his name and a goal assist for setting up Hughes’s second – a great day at the office for Ward.

It was no surprise Jamie was substituted soon after as McClaren would have been mindful he was returning from a hamstring injury. These niggling injuries have blighted Ward’s career and keeping him in cotton wool whenever possible is a must. He once again proved how important he will be to any possible success this season and keeping him available for action will be crucial to any promotion push.

Following their 3rd goal - Derby found themselves on the back foot as Blackburn went into ‘nothing to lose’ mode’ and threw everything as well as the kitchen sink at the visitors for the final stages of the match.

Grant Hanley’s effort from in close was on target but well covered by Grant with Whitbread on hand to clear the area. But it was Gestede who in the next attack on goal found a way past the Derby defence as they switched off and allowed him enough time and space to sneak the ball into the net at the near post on 78 minutes.

With just under a quarter of an hour to go – the nerves started to set in for The Rams who were being pushed further back as Rovers sniffed a point on the wind.

Determined not to let their lead slip – Derby defended stoutly and looked to have avoided late drama when, in stoppage time, Gestede guided his header goal wards, only to watch it meet with Rams substitute Mascarell who deflected it onto the woodwork. Travelling fans gasped, home fans rose, but luckily for the visitors, it hit the post, deflected out and was cleared from danger.

FT: 2 – 3

Derby had dominated the match for long periods and deserved to hang on for the win after chances to be further ahead earlier in the match. Blackburn will consider themselves unlucky to not have stolen a point but such is football.

Hughes and Ward in particular were fantastic as they ran rings around Rovers and proved they more than deserve their starting spots in positions that have chopped and changed a bit so far this season.

Zak Whitbread also deserves a mention as he did well deputising for Buxton and will create a selection headache for McClaren as he proved more than capable of not just filling in but mounted a genuine challenge for it to be handed to him regularly.

With the likes of Ibe, Russell, Mascarell and Calero on the bench plus Hendrick soon to return for injury; competition for places will only hot up and if the team can show form like this regularly, Derby will be climbing to the higher reaches of the table sooner rather than later.

A great win by the Rams and one that definitely builds momentum as they head into a mouth watering home fixture against Cardiff on Saturday.


Men Of The Match:

Jamie Ward & Will Hughes: Yes you read correctly – ‘men’ of the match. I found it too hard to separate Hughes who the bossed the midfield and Ward who scored two of the goals and created the other. The dynamic duo set up what was a great victory and don’t deserve to be split – so for me they share the honours.

Match Info / Teams:

Ref: D.Webb

Crowd: 13,566

Rams: Grant, Christie, Keogh, Whitbread, Forsyth, Eustace, Hughes (Mascarell 81’), Bryson, Ward (Russell 72’), Dawkins (Ibe 72’), Martin.

Subs not used: Roos, Shotton, L Naylor, Thomas

Goals: Ward - 9’, 58’, Hughes - 37’

Rovers: Robinson, Baptiste, Hanley, Kilgallon (Varney, 88), Olsson, Marshall, Cairney, Evans (Duffy, 90), Conway (Tunnicliffe, 64), Rhodes, Gestede

Unused Subs: King, Williamson, Taylor, Steele

Goals: Marshall – 1’, Gestede – 78’

Match Stats – Blackburn / Derby:

Possession: 55% / 45%

Shots On Target: 7 / 7

Shots Off Target: 13 / 8

Corners: 11 / 3

Fouls: 13 / 7

We Said / They Said - Match Reaction:

We Said – Steve McClaren:

"I think we deserved the result. It would have been a travesty if they had equalised. Last year we drew against Birmingham 3-3 when 3-1 up, but we've hung on and got the points and it's a big win.”

"This league is tough, it's really hard. There's so many teams now who see us as big fish and are approaching it differently to stop us playing,"

They said – Gary Bowyer:

"I thought we were outstanding. Steve McClaren is running up and down the technical area with five minutes to go. The sense of relief from their bench and their players just shows the amount of pressure we put them under.”

"We've had a right good go and we've been excellent."

Match Highlights / Interviews - Video:

Up Next For The Rams:

Derby vs. Cardiff

iPro Stadium

Saturday 20th of September - 3:00pm


Photo: Action Images

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