Rams charge halted

Andy Munro on Blues draw at Derby.

Blues lined up 4-5-1, or was it 4-3-2-1 , or 4-2-3-1? Apparently it doesn’t really matter, according to the Lee Clark Coaching Manual. His mantra is that it’s about the players not the formation and although I partly sympathise with that view, there’s nothing quite like a regular shape and formation to breed understanding and fluency. Still, some of the changes seemed sensible, not least the return of Ferguson and consequentially natural width on both sides of the pitch.

On paper, this game seemed like mission impossible, Blues having been soundly whipped by a mediocre Leeds and now playing a Derby side on fire. Unsurprisingly then, Derby had the upper hand in the first half with Blues looking a bit shaky although Robbo put in his usual crunching work,  .and even though the Rams eventually took the lead, Ziggy went close when he rattled the bar. One nil down and, to add to Blues’ woes, Burke limped off apparently with a ‘tight’ hamstring. The young Gray came on to add to Blues growing list of young debutants and one wonders whether their Development Squad team will soon consist of under-fifteens.

Whatever was said at half time seemed to galvanise Blues, who moved up a gear with Fergie particularly busy. However, with the Derby initially keeping their advantage, Blues brought on luckless Lee Novak. Normally a substitution guaranteed not to get Blue hearts beating faster, to the player’s credit he scored almost immediately when he smashed home a slightly hopeful up and under from Caddis. It was a goal good enough to win a match but most Bluenoses would have taken the final resulting draw. While we could have had all three points, Derby could have done the same so we had to endure the tension of  a length of added time which would have made Fergie time  seem like a nanosecond.

Certainly there were some high spots with Callum Reilly putting in a more than a decent shift and Damarai Gray doing himself no harm producing a skilful and lively display. Robinson was his usual rumbustious self which helped Burn to settle given his last couple of shaky games. However he’s still young and he deserves to be cut some slack. Ziggy remains an enigma as he can cause all sorts of danger yet seems to want the ball on a plate – contrast that with the young Leeds centre forward the week before. Maybe Novak’s goal will improve his displays and while his attitude isn’t in question, the jury is still out on his pace, skill and heading ability.

A word about the excellent following and vocal support which apparently included a sidelined Mitch Hancox – a player whom I think still has an important role to play. Coming up are two home games, cup and league,  which may yet define our season, even at this comparatively early stage.