Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Sunday April 1 2007
31st March 2007
Oakley and Jones keeps the Rams on top
The Rams left Oakwell with all three points with a 2-1 victory against Barnsley to maintain their lead at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship. David Jones had put the Rams in control with a sixth goal since his January move from Manchester United, but it was Derby`s second for which the game will be remembered.
Making his first start for the Tykes, goalkeeper David Lucas was knocked out after clattering into Giles Barnes in the box, allowing Matt Oakley to fire into an empty net.
Despite several minutes of treatment, the on-loan Sheffield Wednesday keeper only regained consciousness en route to hospital. Sam Togwell pulled a goal back late in stoppage-time but Derby were worthy winners.
Billy Davies made two changes to his starting line up, giving Jon Macken place in the stating eleven with the difficult job of filling the boots of suspended top scorer Steve Howard, while Darren Currie was handed a first start in midfield at the expense of Seth Johnson.
Tyke`s assistant boss Ryan Kidd had revealed in midweek he and manager Simon Davey had devised a game plan to beat the Rams, it was to flood the midfield and Istvan Ferenczi as a lone striker.
The result was a scrappy opening, Grant McCann was first to try his luck with a weak shot from distance that didn`t trouble Stephen Bywater. The Rams fans had turned out in numbers and 7,400 Derby supporters gave the Rams magnificent support. But the volume went up even higher on 11 minutes as the Rams went in front. Good approach work involving Macken, Matt Oakley and David Jones resulted in David Lucas only parring Giles Barnes's shot, and Jones was quickest to react and he fired home, much to the delight of the huge Rams contingent.
The game then fell back into the same disjointed pattern with which it had begun, and it was a full 15 minutes until the next serious attempt at goal, again from a quick Derby counter-attack, but Oakley volleyed well over.
Kyel Reid then fired over the top at the other end as Barnsley abandoned their starting formation and moved Peter Rajczi up front.
A free-kick then gave Tykes top scorer Brian Howard a sight of goal from 25-yards, but he sent the ball over the bar. Macken headed wide for the Rams and the Tykes had two great chance to level just before the break Rajczi was found close to goal but he hesitated and the chance was gone and Howard`s long-range strike was well wide.
The first half`s lack of quality was of no concern to a vocal travelling contingent, who had more reason to celebrate shortly after the restart and the Rams made it 2-0.
A flighted free-kick from Bywater was played into the box for Barnes, who looked the favourite to win the ball with his back to goal until Lucas decided to come and claim, flattening the midfielder in the process. With both players in a heap in the area the ball ran loose to Oakley, who fired into the empty net from 20-yards.
The keeper came off far worse and was eventually carried from the field on a stretcher after a seven minute delay. Nick Colgan took over from Lucas in goal, and the home side also threw on striker Paul Hayes for midfielder McCann. Upon the resumption the home side went in search of a goal to get them back into the game, and Bywater did well to beat Ferenczi to a low cross in the box.
There was another lengthy stoppage when skipper Paul Reid went down in agony. He was unable to continue and was replaced by Neil Austin.
Bywater then produced his best save of the day when Reid arrowed Rajczi`s cross goal wards, forcing a great reaction stop from the Rams keeper.
Currie's was replaced on the hour by Gary Teale, who dropped in on the right with Fagan moving over to the left.
Barnes then went on one of his mazy runs that saw the home defence back off, but his shot was easily saved by Colgan.
The Rams made a second change on 77 with Seth Johnson replacing Jones, who had been excellent.
The home side continued to press as the Rams held on to their lead and in the seventh minute of stoppage-time Sam Togwell pulled a goal back but there was no danger to Derby's three points.
Barnsley - GK Lucas (Colgan 54), Hassell, Heckingbottom, P Reid (Austin 73), Togwell, Ferenczi, B Howard, Rajczi, Kay, K Reid, McCann (Hayes 54)
SUBS - R Jones, Nardiello
Derby County - GK Bywater, Mears, Moore, Leacock, McEveley, Fagan (Peschisolido 90), Oakley, D Jones (S Johnson 77), Currie (Teale 67), Barnes, Macken
SUBS - Grant, Edworthy
Att - 17,059
Ref - S Mathieson (Cheshire).
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Date:Sunday April 1 2007
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