Rams v U's - Report
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).
The 'crisis' at Derby County is officially over! That was the tongue-in-cheek comment of Billy Davies after Friday night's 5-1 win over Colchester put the Rams back on top of the Championship.
Davies said: "I've said for weeks and weeks it was only a matter of time before someone got on the end of a few goals from us.
"On playing performances and chances this was a result that was waiting to happen. It was a tremendous performance and I'm delighted for the team and the fans.
"When we play at that tempo we know we have players who can cause all kinds of problems - but the important thing is the crisis at Derby County is officially over! Some people have been saying that the club has hit a brick wall, but they will be thinking twice about that after tonight."
Davies had a special word of praise for the Pride Park crowd, who rose to the occasion. "It's as loud as I've heard Pride Park since I've been here and we need that wall of sound,' he said. "The fans play such a crucial role and the atmosphere tonight was excellent, as was the way they got behind the team."
And of Giles Barnes - the man of the match - Davies said: "If Giles wants to stay in the team he has to perform like that on a week to week basis and it's as simple as that. That's called consistency. My players know they have to take the jersey and hang on to it, but it's nice to have Barnsey back in and fighting for his place and he now knows if he doesn't do that he will find himself on the bench or in the stand.'
'This has been the low point of the season. There are more highs to come though.'
'Giles Barnes has pace, ability and a belief in himself. We didn't contain him early on and at 3-0 down at half-time we had a mountain to climb.
'When we changed the system at half-time to match them we got a goal and a few chances.'