Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Friday December 29 2006
30th December 2006
The Rams will hope to bounce back after their Boxing Day defeat against Wolves, with a victory over Plymouth Argyle and keep their promotion campaign on track.
A first home defeat in five matches against Wolves on Boxing Day was certainly a wake up call for the Rams. But with results going their way the Rams still sit in third spot, level with Preston on 44 points. On Saturday the Rams entertain Plymouth Argyle at Pride Park, and it will be an opportunity to put in a solid performance, and wipe out the horror show the Rams served up on live TV against Argyle at Home Park in October when the Rams went down 1-3 to a ten-man home side. Ian Holloway's side sit in 13th position on 35 points, and visit Pride Park after an excellent 2-2 at Cardiff City, with David Norris scoring a brace.
A worrying sign for the Rams is the lack of goal scoring in the last two games, but Coach Billy Davies isn't concerned. He said: 'I'd be more concerned if we weren't creating chances.
'When you look at the chances we created in the second half against Wolves and consider that we hit the post and the bar during the game, you would have to say that on another day we may have scored two or three goals.'
Derby has scored 33 goals in 25 League matches, which ranks Derby 10th in the Championship's list of top scorers and will hope to add to that on Saturday.
Definitely out for the Rams is defender Paul Boertien, whose injury jinx seems to have struck again after he suffered medial knee ligament damage on Boxing Day. Davies has a number of players who could fill the left back role, Mo Camara or Richard Jackson would be the most likely replacements, while Michael Johnson could also drop in after taking over from Boertien against Wolves.
After two games without the Rams scoring Howard will be looking to end this and add to his eight goal tally for the season. He holds the ball up well and brings others into the game. His contribution is vital for a Derby victory.
Plymouth look like having winger Bojan Djordjic out of the side with a fractured cheekbone, as is Captain Paul Wotton - who has suffered knee ligament damage.
The 34-year-old striker has been on target seven times for the Pilgrims, and he caused the Rams allsorts of problems at Home Park earlier in the season. He must be watched closely along with David Norris who scored a double at Cardiff on Saturday
Last Time we met at Pride Park
Derby County 1 Plymouth 0 - 27th February 2006.
With all the off-field problems at Pride Park, the Rams gave some cheer to their loyal supporters with a hard fought 1-0 over Plymouth. Three vital points and the failings of those strugglers around them put nine points between themselves and the bottom three.
This was only the Rams' seventh League win and the first under the guidance of Terry Westley, who held the managerial reins until the end of the season. Derby looked disjointed and at times disappointing. They have played better in recent weeks and lost but it is points that matter at this scrapping stage.
Alan Wright, Kevin Lisbie and 18-year-old Academy product Lionel Ainsworth made their debuts but, on a day of newcomers, it was one of the club's longest-serving players who settled the contest.
Adam Bolder teased his looping header back over stranded keeper Romain Larrieu as early as the second minute. Joy, relief and emotion mingled as one as the players raced to celebrate with Westley, which was another sign of togetherness in the camp. "I owed the fans and myself a goal for the one I missed at Norwich a week earlier," said Bolder.
Pressure relieved and confidence regained, a passage of keep-ball followed as the Rams popped passes between and around chasing Plymouth players. Sadly, a second goal was beyond them and the importance of a win coupled with the players' desperation for three points strangled their freedom.
Fear took over, nerves gnawed at belief and Larrieu was seriously stretched on only one other occasion, when he tipped Inigo Idiakez's in swinging corner on to the bar with four minutes remaining. Team
Derby County: Camp, Nyatanga, Moore, Edworthy, Wright, Barnes, Idiakez, Bolder Smith, Lisbie, Peschisolido
Subs: Holmes (for Peschisolido, 76), Ainsworth (for Lisbie, 90), Thirlwell, Hajto, Poole
A must win for the Rams - Derby County 3 Plymouth 0
Monday 1st January - Championship
Preston North End v Derby County - Deepdale - 3pm
Saturday 6th January - FA Cup 3rd Round
Derby County v Wrexham - Pride Park - 3pm
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Date:Friday December 29 2006
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