Back On Track
Attendance: 30, 111
Paul Jewell's Derby side cruised to a comfotable 3-0 victory against a Sheffield Wednesday side who came to Pride Park fancying their chances according to manager Brian Laws. After a nervy looking first ten minutes The Rams' threatened to run away with the match and they could have easily doubled their three goals that came through fine strikes from Kris Commons, a first senior goal for Miles Addison and an absolute screamer for his first Derby goal from leftback Jordan Stewart. On top of that some fine football, particularly in the second half, lead to great chances for Ellington and Barazite amongst others as they punished the visitors who looked decidedly shaky at the back in patches. Indeed, Wednesday didn't threaten Roy Carroll's goal after an early Sodje volley that went narrowly wide and were second best nearly all afternoon as Derby claimed an easy three points and got back to winning ways.
Derby made three changes to the midweek team that beat Leeds with Rob Hulse coming in for Nathan Ellington and Nacer Barazite and Miles Addison returning after missing that game through being cup-tied and suspended respectively. Roy Carroll also continued in goal after the cup tie with Bywater taking up a place on the bench. Former Ram Lee Grant was called into action early on when Paul Green hit a controlled volley that he held at full stretch although the save looked more spectacular than it was. Leon Clarke muscled his way onto a long ball at the other end before laying off to Akpo Sodje who fired just wide of the post.
Paul Green was spearheading Derby's efforts early on and he nearly gave them the lead after some fine football involving Jordan Stewart and Nacer Barazite ended with the Dutch youngster cutting the ball back only for Green to fire into the side netting. Grant was then called into action again to grab a Rob Hulse header from a fine Kris Commons cross. Leon Clarke again muscled his was through the middle and, bearing down on goal, was robbed by a fine Claude Davis tackle as he was set to shoot with the goal at his mercy.
Marcus Tudgay had a chance on his return to Pride Park but planted his header straight at Carroll and he was made to pay moments later as Derby took the lead on thirty minutes. Steve Watson hit a poor clearance across the box and Kris Commons took it down on his chest before beating McMahon and firing across Grant into the bottom corner. Spurr fired high, wide and handsome as Wednesday tried to get back into the match and Sodje was booked for a late challenge on Carroll after a weak Stewart backpass. Derby kept pushing but were unable to create any further clear-cut chances as they reached halftime a goal in front.
The visitors opened up the second half at speed as they looked to get themselves back in contention but they quickly found themselves further behind as Miles Addison scored his first senior goal for Derby after 51 minutes. Commons was again involved as he broke forward and laid the ball into Addison's path, the youngster powered past a defender before rolling his shot across Grant and into the bottom corner. The ground erupted and it was a popular goal amongst the players as well with the whole side gathering round Addison as he celebrated.
Wednesday quickly looked to change things round with Sodje and McAllister making way for Deon Burton and Jermaine Johnson and it was nearly three shortly afterwards when Barazite launched a freekick into the area that Grant dropped into the net but with players converging on the keeper the referee, correctly, decided a foul had taken place. Clarke was given a chance but fired well over and again the visitors were punished for their inability to get shots on target when Jordan Stewart showed them how in the 66th minute. Derby broke from midfield through their leftback and, as the defence opened up in front of him, Stewart launched an unstoppable left foot effort into the top corner that left Grant with no chance.
Derby were well in control and it was only a question of how many they would score and making sure they kept a clean sheet for only the second time in the league this season. Tudgay fired a couple of efforts woefully wide of the target and Derby made a change of their own bringing on Nathan Ellington for Tito Villa with the Argentinean, already on a booking, testing the patience of the referee whilst chasing lost causes and perhaps being over-physical in a couple of challenges.
Ellington nearly scored with his first touch after getting his head to a Hulse cross only for the effort to hit Grant more than the keeper saving it. The former Derby man made another sharp save as Barazite looked to take advantage of more poor defending only to be denied down to the keepers right as Grant pushed the ball behind. The Rams' continued to press but were unable to find a fourth goal and had to settle for three goals and three points on a comfortable afternoon at Pride Park.
Edged out Nyatanga due to notching his first goal in a Derby shirt, showed what was missing on Tuesday night and you could see what his goal meant to the crowd, his teammates and more importantly to him.
Roy Carroll 7
Paul Connolly 8
Jordan Stewart 8
Lewin Nyatanga 9
Claude Davies 8
Nacer Barazite 8
Miles Addison 9
Paul Green 8
Kris Commons 9
Rob Hulse 8
Tito Villa 8
Nathan Ellington 7
Przemyslaw Kazmierczak 6
Rueben Zadkovich 6