Blues obtained three welcome points on Saturday, as Andy Munro reports.
It was billed as a must-win game like just about every other game in the Championship, where teams can instantly be dragged into the promotion or relegation whirlpool.
The crowd was slightly better than recent attendances, partly due to the usual loyal Rams following, and Blues fielded a side as near as possible to the Blackpool game which Lee Clark alone had billed as an “excellent performance” and the sort of football he wanted to see played down at St Andrews…. Lord help us.
The early exchanges probably saw Blues have the edge without looking remotely dangerous. In fact it took a brilliant reaction save from Butland to keep them from going behind but with Derby coming more into the game, a goal wasn’t long in coming. Admittedly a Blues player looked to be fouled in the Derby build up but the goal was nethertheless disappointing with Blues defenders not reacting quick enough. In fact Derby could have doubled their lead unless Robbo hadn’t bravely put his substantial body on the line.
It all made for a half-time of doom, gloom and mutterings and talk of Division One football. In fact Lee Clark’s ears must have been burning like Hades but, fair play to him when he had a Barry Fry moment and made two half-time substitutions. Taking off Burke – unless he was injured -was a bit of a shock but bringing on Redmond wasn’t a bad trade off whilst Wes Thomas came on for the distinctly average Lovengrans. Soon afterwards, he brought on the prodigal himself, Ravel Morrison, for Callum Reilly who had been unlucky to see a tremendous drive hit the inside of the post and bounce out.
The introduction of Morrison restored some balance by bringing creativity to a previously hard working but one dimensional centre of midfield. Wes Thomas showed his much vaunted but rarely displayed ‘pace and power'(or should that now be ‘shock and awe’?) with two well taken goals and I, along with many other Bluenoses, had to reach for a slice of humble pie of Desperate Dan proportions. Meanwhile Redmond showed Chris Hughton inspired form to run across the box before a thundering finish lifted spirits to an unbelievable high from the depths of half-time.
Overall Blues deserved this vital win and a word for Shane Ferguson who had an outstanding game although I would like to see him back plying his trade on the wing. I would think two wins and a draw will see us safely into midfield mediocrity that many of us now crave – unthinkable two years ago but this year a realistic target.
Incidentally, I note that yet again we failed to warrant a mention from the Football League Show pundits presumably because we are inching towards that mediocrity, league position-wise. So Luther, Stevie and Maneesh – I don’t care if you don’t mention us again for the rest of this season!!