Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Friday February 23 2007
Stadium of Light
24th February 2007
The Rams travel to the north-east this weekend, in a real six-pointer. Sunderland has turned the 'Stadium of light` into a fortress, and Roy Keane`s side is unbeaten in the league in their last eight games. In fact they were on a seven match winning sequence, but for a last minute equaliser by Birmingham City on Tuesday evening ended it. In fact the Rams have struggled in the north-east and haven`t won in their last ten visits to the football mad city, and Billy Davies will hope that changes this weekend.
Sunderland sit in fifth position in the league only six points behind the Rams, and are the form team of the Championship at present. The Black Cats are unbeaten in the league this year and have moved up the league, though they have played a game more than the Rams. But Davies is relishing the encounter, he said: "We are now a danger to everyone and have players who can cause a lot of problems.
"Our away record is first class and we have gone to a lot of the top places this season and come away with results.
"Sunderland are a good footballing side, it will be a good contest and one we are looking forward to.'
Sunderland - No team news at present
The former Manchester United star has returned to somewhere near his best form since his move from Australian A-League Champions Sydney FC. He has scored three goals in his 20 appearances and he reading the game so well. Dangerous in and around the penalty area, will have to be closed down.
Derby Defender Dean Leacock is out with a knee injury, but other wise the Rams are at full strength
Surprisingly dropped on Wednesday in the defeat against Stoke City. He was a target of Sunderland in January, but decided to join the Rams. I`m sure the fans up there will give him some stick, but his passing ability and incredible energy will make him a danger for the Black Cats.
Last time we met -
9th September 2006
Derby 1 - Oakley (45)
Sunderland 2 - Brown (62), Wallace (64)
Teams for the game
Derby County: Bywater, Edworthy, Leacock, Michael Johnson, Camara, Barnes, Oakley, Smith, Peschisolido, Howard, Lupoli.
Subs: Grant, Bolder, Seth Johnson, Malcolm, Nyatanga.
Sunderland: Alnwick, Delap, Cunningham, Varga, Robbie Elliott, Miller, Kavanagh, Whitehead, Wallace, Connolly, Brown.
Subs: Ward, Hysen, Stephen Elliott, Leadbitter, Neill Collins.
Last time we met at Sunderland
2nd October 2004
Mart Poom won many points for Derby County during his six years with the club. Now the Estonian goalkeeper is denying them points.
He did so at Derby a little over a year ago when his sensational headed equaliser for Sunderland stunned Pride Park deep in stoppage-time.
A special beer, 'Poominator Ale', was issued to celebrate his heroics that day and Sunderland supporters were toasting Poom again at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
His string of saves, including a brilliant one from Marco Reich late on, kept Derby at bay in a goalless draw.
Those with red and white tinted spectacles will describe the contest as drab but this was another good point for the Rams, who have held Wigan Athletic, West Ham United and Sunderland in successive games.
Those three clubs are in the top seven of the Championship and are expected to be in the shake-up for promotion, suggesting Derby are putting the foundations in place for a solid campaign.
It must be remembered that they have also beaten Reading, QPR and Ipswich who currently occupy three of the top four places.
Derby has 15 points from a dozen League games with a quarter of the season complete. They would like to have more - and deserve more.
The one they collected at Sunderland may well have been three but for Poom's excellence.
Last five away clashes between Sunderland & Derby
Sunderland 2 - Oster, Smith
Derby 1 - Taylor
Sunderland 1 - Phillips
Derby 1 - Robinson
Sunderland 2 - Kilbane, Phillips
Derby 1 - Christie
Sunderland 1 - Rae
Derby 1 - Christie
Sunderland 2 - Ord, Russell
Simmo's Prediction - Sunderland is not a happy hunting ground for the Rams, and with their current form of the Black cats a draw would be a good result for Davies' side. I`ll go for - Sunderland 1 Derby County 1
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Date:Friday February 23 2007
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