Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Saturday March 3 2007
2nd March 2007
Rams produce a five-star show
The Rams turned on the style to return to the top of the table and sent out a message to the Coca-Cola Championship's chasing pack, their so called form slump was over after a 5-1 victory against Colchester United at Pride Park.
Giles Barnes, Arturo Lupoli and Michael Johnson returned to the Derby County starting line-up, taking over from Craig Fagan and Tyrone Mears, who were on the bench, while Stephen Pearson was ruled out through injury.
The Rams were out the blocks early and were ahead in the second minute, Barnes - returning after transfer speculation - had and immediate impact. His electric pace from midfield left the U`s midfielders in his wake, and his pass found Gary Teale wide on the right, his cross found David Jones at the back post, who shinned the ball into the net from eight-yards, to give the Rams the best possible start.
The Pride Park crowd were in raptures and on 19 minutes they were celebrating again as the Rams made it 2-0. Jones won a tackle in midfield, which looked suspiciously like a foul but the referee waved play on, and he played Barnes away down the right. The 18-year-old looked up and fired over a wonderful first-time cross that Arturo Lupoli volleyed home superbly from ten-yards.
The visitors were shell-shocked and in the 29th minutes the Rams were totally rampant.
A great flick on by Steve Howard was well read by Barnes who found space down the left, and his pace took him clear of three Colchester defenders, before squeezing the ball home from the narrowest of angles for his second goal in as many games.
Michael Johnson limped off just before the break with what looked like a serious knee injury and he was replaced by Tyrone Mears. But the Rams were dominant and long-range shots from Matt Oakley and Barnes could have added to the lead but it was 3-0 at the break.
The visitors opened brightly with Geraint Williams bringing on big front-man Chris Iwelumo at half-time, in place of Jamie Cureton, and they tried to salvage something from the match. It looked a positive move and they were back in the game in the 55th minute when ex-Ram Johnnie Jackson headed home from close-range after great work down the right by Duguid.
But Derby regained their three goal advantage after more Barnes magic in the 61st minute, when his trickery won a penalty. This time the teenager was in a tight space down in the left but turned superbly before being hacked down by White inside the box, and Howard scored from the spot for his 15th goal of the season.
It was 5-1 in the 68th minute, Jones low drive across the box was turned past his own goalkeeper by the unfortunate Chris Barker. The Rams continued to press and it could have been six in the 73rd minute but Gerken produced a fine block to deny Jones from close-range.
The rain tumbled down but none of the 26,000 plus crowd was bothered, and they gave the players a standing ovation at the end of the game. It`s been report there is a crisis at the club - What crisis? - The Rams are back on their game and sit proudly on top of the league, even if it`s only overnight.-
Derby County - Bywater, Edworthy, Moore, M Johnson (Mears 45), McEveley, Oakley (Macken 81), Jones, Teale, Barnes, Lupoli (Fagan 68), Howard.
Subs not used - Bisgaard, Grant
Colchester United - Gerken, White (Baldwin 72), Jackson, Brown, Watson (Ephraim 72), Duguid (C), Cureton (Iwelumo HT), Izzet, Garcia, Barker, Mills.
Subs not used - Davison, McLeod.
Referee; M Jones (Cheshire).
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Date:Saturday March 3 2007
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