Porter Secures The Win
Goals from Michael Tonge and Chris Porter helped The Rams to a straight forward victory over Watford at Pride Park to break their recent run of two defeats. A thunderbolt from the left foot of Tonge only twelve minutes in gave his side the lead and they dominated possession for the remainder of the half with Watford showing little going forward although they couldn`t find the second goal in a half of few chances. The visitors went a little more direct in the second half but Jake Buxton and Shaun Barker stood firm to deal with the long balls forward. Henri Lansbury had a low shot superbly saved by Stephen Bywater with their best effort of the match and even a weak header back to the keeper from Dean Moxey didn`t lead to a shot on goal as Lansbury got the ball caught under his feet. It was left to Chris Porter settle the game when he broke away with twelve minutes to play and he calmly slotted past Scott Loach to tie up the win for Derby,
Rob Hulse replaced Gilles Sunu in the only change to the side beaten at The Hawthorns last weekend with Michael Tonge slotting in on the right of midfield allowing Derby`s leading scorer to partner Chris Porter up front. There were places in the visitors starting line-up for former loanees John Eustace and Danny Graham on their return to Pride Park. Derby started in their customary bright fashion and a bursting Stephen Pearson run and cutback created the first chance of the game for Paul Green but his guided effort was well saved by Scott Loach to his left to deny the midfielder.
Derby were dominating the possession and they took the lead twelve minutes in through a superb left footed strike from Michael Tonge. Paul Green knocked the ball to him to the right of centre and, with Nicky Hunt making a fine run outside him, he cut inside before firing an unstoppable effort into the top right-hand corner of the goal with the ball crashing down off the crossbar before bouncing up and into the net. The game went through a scrappy spell after the opener with The Rams still on top but the ball wasn`t breaking for them in the final third and at times the final pass let them down. Danny Graham had a rare effort on goal for Watford as the half came to a close but he couldn`t get any direction on his glancing header and it flew harmlessly over.
Paul Green had the first effort of the second half but he didn`t get enough behind his shot and Scott Loach gathered with ease as the ball came through to him. Stephen Bywater was called into action for virtually the first time moments later when Henri Lansbury fired a low shot from outside of the area through a crowd of players and he reacted sharply going down to his right to flick the ball up and over the bar with a strong right-hand. With Michael Tonge and Stephen Pearson making inroads down either flank only last gasp clearances from Jay DeMerit and Martin Taylor denied Hulse and Porter from getting on the end of dangerous looking balls into the area.
Watford squandered a glorious opportunity to level the scores when a weak header back to the keeper by Dean Moxey only found Henri Lansbury but rather than taking the chance early he opted to run at goal only to get the ball stuck under his feet under challenge from Shaun Barker and the chance was gone. The visitors certainly had their tails up but they were struggling to break down a solid looking Derby backline with the midfield quartet in front of them also working hard to close down their opponents.
The Rams tied the game up with twelve minutes to go when a slip by Jay DeMerit let Chris Porter take the ball off his toe and he ran in on goal before calmly slotting past Loach to secure the victory with a chance he never looked like missing. The substitutions came thick and fast after that with Rob Hulse, Michael Tonge and Chris Porter all making way for Steve Davies, Russell Anderson and Dave Martin in the final ten minutes with Watford also having made their three substitutions and throwing men forward to get back into the match. The only chance for the visitors in the closing stages came when a long diagonal ball somehow landed at the feet of Danny Graham but Stephen Bywater reacted sharply to deny the striker and secure the clean sheet as Derby claimed a fairly comfortable win.