Derby Day Delight: The Rams thrash their East Midlands rivals 3-0 in a heated battle
The 11th December 2016 welcomed one of the fiercest rivalries in English football. Derby County were taking on Nottingham Forest at the iPro Stadium. Many Derby fans were extremely pleased this fixture came at the time it did as the Rams were coming into the game with five consecutive wins. This superb form, undoubtedly due to Steve McClaren’s return, saw the Rams move a point off the play-off places in eighth and McClaren win November’s Championship
Manager of the Month. However, Nottingham Forest were also in high spirits as they were coming into the game with three consecutive wins, the most notable being their 2-1 victory over Championship leaders Newcastle United.
In the pre-match warm-up there was already drama as Henri Lansbury (right), Forest’s star player and winner of November’s Championship Player of the Month, picked up a hamstring injury. Great relief rang around the Derby end, not so much for the travelling Forest supporters! The flags were out creating a sea of black and white, whilst a block of red was visible in the south-east corner of the stadium. Both sets of fans were in tremendous voice eagerly awaiting this historic rivalry.
An electric atmosphere welcomed both sides onto the pitch.
It was a tense beginning to the game, neither side fully settling in and stamping their authority on to the local derby. The fiery atmosphere certainly rubbed off onto the players as in the 10th minute the referee dished out four yellow cards. Ben Osborn, a Derby born lad, flew into the back of Bradley Johnson. This prompted a reaction from Johnson who pushed Osborn onto floor when getting back up. Osborn, as if he suddenly thought he was in a pantomime, rolled around and held his head. Players ran in and Darren Bent’s head came to blows with Perquis’, the Forest centre-back. All four players mentioned received a yellow card. Everyone watching on TV and in the stadium knew they were watching a local derby.
The first goal didn’t come until the 33rd minute. Tom Ince whipped in a lovely cross from a corner which on its way in took a deflection and landed on Nicklas Bendtner’s head. It then sailed into the back of the net giving the Rams the lead. From Bendtner’s performance thus far, that looked the only way he would score a goal.
Everything changed after the first goal. The Rams turned on the style as they began to play lovely, flowing, football. Forest could barely hold onto the ball as their attacking options were scarce and Derby’s pressure was immense. However, they did have their only clear cut chance of the game just before half time. After a long throw-in from the left hand side of the pitch and a missed effort from Pajtim Kasami, the ball rolled nicely to Matty Cash just inside the box. His side footed shot however made it easy for Scott Carson to get down and smother the ball. This was the visitors’ first and only shot on goal in the first half.
The second half saw a repeat of the end of the first. Forest and once again Nicklas Bendtner looked very shaky when defending set pieces. The ball was whipped in to the back post and Bendtner cracked the woodwork of his own goal. He would be just one goal away from a hat-trick if he netted that one but for the other team.
A terrific piece of solo play from Thomas Ince (right) saw Derby net a second in the 55th minute. A lovely through ball was played into Ince by Derby’s full-back, Chris Baird. Ince still had a lot to do as he went to go inside but then cleverly cut back out sending Michael Mancienne the other way. Ince then with the outside of his left boot nestled the ball into the top left hand corner. Ince has now scored five goals in five games.
Derby County soon wrapped the game up. In the 64th minute, Ince played a simple pass to Will Hughes in the middle of the park who found himself with acres of space. After quick direct running to the edge of the box Hughes played a clever ball to Jonny Russell who had a shot on goal which was well saved by Stojkovic. Hughes carried on his run and with no challenge from a lack-lustre Forest defence Hughes latched onto the rebound and hit the ball home.
The game petered out in the remaining 20 minutes as the Rams were extremely comfortable in their position and Forest did not look like threatening Derby’s back four. This match certainly lived up to expectations of a local derby with eight yellow cards and goals being scored. The Forest fans resorted to setting off two red flares when Derby scored their last two goals knowing they would have no other chance to do so.
This win sees Derby move into the Championship play-off places and increase their winning streak to six games. They equal a club record of six successive home clean sheets in the league during one season. While Forest are only five points from the relegation zone after this dispirited loss.