RAMBLE: Derby County -v- Wednesday

RAMBLE: Derby County -v- Wednesday

It’s fair to say I wasn’t expecting a positive result from this game.

Derby are competing for promotion and our season has hit a big decline, with poor form and no threat of ever troubling opposition keepers.

A big concern is that not only are we misfiring but our defence has started to look more and more vulnerable too.

Our midfield general and January player of the month Semedo was likely to miss our through injury and the news that Loovens is on the long-term injury list only added to my pessimism.

Add to all of this the fact that it was my turn on ramble duty, it all pointed towards a defeat.

Weather report: spilled drinks with a chance of sleet

Weather report: spilled drinks with a chance of sleet

I travelled down the M1 from Leeds to Derby on my own for this one and arranged to meet up with mates at the ground. Whilst waiting for them I decided to treat myself to a subway and ordered a foot long and a drink.

I went outside and no sooner had I put my drink down than then wind decided to send it crashing to the floor – brilliant.

Another sign that this wasn’t going to be a good day! Spilt drinks aside it was a really good sandwich!

Checking my phone for the team news it’s never surprising that we’re always one of the last teams to release our starting eleven, never quite understand why but there you go. Seeing the team made me groan out loud as I’m sure it did many Wednesday fans – Maghoma was starting again.

I’m not one to criticise Stuart Gray but I really don’t know what he sees in Maghoma.

He continually puts in below par performances accompanied by an inadequate work rate yet keeps a starting shirt. He is such a frustrating player. The thing is he COULD be a good player but he isn’t intelligent enough to use his attributes effectively.

He can scare defenders to death when he runs at them and takes them on (as seen at Forest) but when he does do this he still makes the wrong decisions. He’s a player we should be looking to offload at the end of this season, he may be a great League One player and he’s already shown he’s too good for League Two but he doesn’t look like he’s good enough for this level.

Atdhe may love him, but is time for a rest for Jacques?

Atdhe may love him, but is time for a rest for Jacques?

Anyway back to the rest of the starting eleven and there weren’t really any other reasons for complaint. The one change to the team was Hutchinson coming in for the injured Semedo.

Although when the teams came out onto the pitch and we expected to see Bus lining up alongside Keane it was actually the big man Nuhiu who came out (Gray revealing after the match that Bus had injured his groin in the warm-up).

THE MATCH

It was strange to see that we seemed to be playing with Nuhiu as the lone man upfront and Will Keane was out on the left wing. An odd decision considering we had Maguire sat on the bench after his return from suspension.

This meant that we had three in the middle – McGugan, Lee and Hutchinson – but despite this Derby often found themselves with lots of space in the middle of the park, frequently with a player completely unmarked with loads of space and time.

However, this aside, our central trio looked great – McGugan was in fine form, taking players on and playing clever passes, Kieran Lee was working hard as usual and Hutch was winning absolutely everything.

Sam Hutchinson: 'loves a tackle'

Sam Hutchinson: ‘loves a tackle’

Whenever a Derby player had the ball Hutch would be breathing right down their necks and was throwing himself into tackles (which is always a worry with how much he loves to collect cards). McGugan seemed to be really enjoying himself out there, possibly with being an ex-Forest player he really wanted to put one over on Derby.

In the 20th minute he did just that. He did superbly well on the edge of the Derby area to get a shot away despite having Will Hughes grabbing at him and his shot ended up getting turned behind for a corner.

I then saw the referee pointing towards a goal-kick and starting shouting furiously only for my mate to tell me that we’d actually been given a free-kick. Okay then ref, excellent decision!

The free-kick was in a great position, right on the edge of the box and as the referee marched the Derby wall backwards and Lewis McGugan stood over the ball you started to wonder…

Up stepped McGugan and struck the ball perfectly round the wall and into the top corner of Lee Grant’s goal as the former Wednesday stopper stood motionless.

GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALL

GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALL

GET IN!! What a brilliant goal!

It was great to see the players run over towards the coaching staff too, especially considering the difficult run that we’re on and fans starting to get restless and jump on Gray’s back.

Shortly after we’d taken the lead it could all have been level again.

Sloppy defending at the back saw us play the ball to Ince’s feet and with Westwood off his line he had a second chance to get a shot away at an open goal.

Thankfully he didn’t strike the ball straight away and we managed to get players throwing themselves back across the goal line in an attempt to keep the ball out but Ince’s shot hit the post and Lee then met it with his slide – it could have gone anywhere but resulted in a Derby corner.

Derby put us under lots of pressure for the rest of the first half but we managed to cope with it pretty well with Hutchinson in particular playing exceptionally well.

He won absolutely everything.

We also had players throwing themselves in the way of shots and it was great to see the level of commitment from the team. Our weak points were the wings, where we had Keane out of position and the ineffective Maghoma on the other.

If you were to make a change at halftime it’d be one of those two to make way however Gray decided to keep things the same. A nod to our fans too, we were our loud, impressive selves all game and even managed to out-sing the 27000-odd Derby fans who were again trying to copy our bounce.

HALF TIME – DERBY 0-1 WEDNESDAY

Now it’s time for a moan. The toilet situation at Derby was absolutely ridiculous! I spent almost the entirety of the interval queuing up. Given that there were almost 3000 of us shoved into the corner I’d assume there must be a law/health and safety act about the amount of toilets there should be?

One set of toilets containing two cubicles and a set of urinals is pathetic! It’s taking the wee wee.

Buxton draws Derby level

Buxton draws Derby level

The important thing for the second half was to keep hold of the ball and hold onto our lead for as long as possible and look to build on it on the counter attack. What did we do?

We conceded a goal near straight from the restart and then found ourselves back level at 1-1 as Jake Buxton rose highest to turn a clever header into the back of the net. Great.

It was pleasing to see though that we didn’t drop our heads, instead we responded in exactly the right way, pushing forward and looking to get at Derby again.

In fact we created a few chances and kept hassling and pressuring Derby when they had possession. This paid off for us in the 55th minute when McGugan dispossessed a midfielder and the ball found its way to the feet of Will Keane who ran into the area before firing a shot towards Grant’s nearside post.

The ball seemed to go straight through him and into the back of the net!

Come on! That’s how you respond to an equaliser! We’d scored 2 goals in a game, what was going on!? Fair enough, our old mate Granty had done us a favour and practically jumped out the way of the ball but they all count.

KEANO! KEANO! KEANO!

KEANO! KEANO! KEANO!

We were going mental!

We looked lively and had a good few chances after our second goal to get a third and possibly a fourth. Nuhiu failed to beat the defenders to a couple of crosses, Maghoma twisted and turned his way into the defenders a few times and Kieran Lee swung his boot through the air in an attempt to hit a spectacular volley when really he could have brought it down and taken more time.

But as has become the way with Wednesday we were left to rue our missed chances. Derby found another equaliser, again it came from a corner and again it was Buxton who headed the ball into Westwood’s goal. 2-2.

Derby draw level AGAIN!

Derby draw level AGAIN!

Hutchinson then picked up his obligatory yellow card and it was Derby now who were really applying the pressure.

Gray then made a change which he has received a bit of criticism for; he took off Keane and brought on Joe Mattock.

I could see why he made the change, it allowed Helan to move further forward onto the left wing and Mattock slotted into left back. It made sense as Keane had been playing out of position and he had the injury scare in the last match.

These reasons don’t seem to matter to the doom-brigade though who are now determined to pick faults with Gray.

Within a minute or so of this change things turned ugly and any chance of picking up a positive result disappeared.

Tom Ince made a great run onto a clever ball behind the defence and went to round Westwood and was then brought down.

Westwood sees red as our back-five falls apart

Westwood sees red as our back-five falls apart

He seemed to throw himself down rather theatrically but in truth it was at the opposite end of the stadium to us and so I can’t really comment as to whether it should or shouldn’t have been a penalty but the spot-kick was given.

What did seem extremely harsh was the red card which the referee Mr Bond showed to Kieren Westwood.

Zayatte had managed to get back behind him and could have possibly cleared the ball away so was it therefore a clear goal-scoring opportunity?

Westwood left the pitch gutted with his head down but was given a standing ovation from the travelling Wednesayites, he had made a number of vital saves (as always) throughout the match to keep us in it.

Hutchinson was the man sacrificed for Chris Kirkland to come on.

Darren Bent was the man to take the penalty and he struck the ball low into Kirkland’s bottom right corner. Kirkland guessed the right way and nearly got his fingertips to it but the ball nestled into the back of the net to give Derby the lead for the first time in the match, 3-2. To rub salt into wounds Derby played the most ridiculous goal celebration music – Feeling Hot.

Goal celebration music should be locked away in a room to be forgotten – along with Maghoma.

No mistakes from Darren Bent

No mistakes from Darren Bent

After Derby’s two equalisers it was great to see the spirit of our players untouched and the fight and spirit remained but after the third goal from the spot and with our talisman Westwood being sent off you saw the spirit slip away.

We did have a couple of chances, with Palmer delivering a decent ball in and Maguire, Helan and Mattock all being guilty of taking too long on the ball but after the third goal we were killed off and it was a case of waiting for the final whistle.

FULL TIME – Derby 3-2 Wednesday

When the final whistle went it was a huge feeling of frustration that I was met with. I hadn’t expected us to get any points today but after that performance we deserved at least one.

We’d held our own against one of the promotion contenders in the division, put two past them but unfortunately we’d been the masters of our own downfall with some poor defending.

Chatting to a Derby fan after leaving the stadium he spoke of how he felt we were robbed and they had been far from their best in the match. He also bigged up Lewis McGugan’s performance.

The man of the match for me could have been either Hutch or McGugan who both did brilliantly.

Work to do for Gaffer Gray?

Work to do for Gaffer Gray?

What we need to do now is build on this performance. We have to start picking up points or we will end up getting sucked into a scrap near the bottom.

We can’t keep expecting the teams below us to not pick up points, we need to start putting points on in threes again and ensure we’re not looking over our shoulders. We have a great chance on Tuesday to get the win at Millwall and after our performance against Derby I thoroughly believe we can.

Despite the loss being hugely frustrating I feel much more optimistic after seeing more fight and spirit return to our play as well as some quality passing and football at times. It’s really important that we do get the victory on Tuesday as the match next Saturday against Middlesbrough will be anything but easy and we know how much we struggle at home.

I take far more positives from the match than negatives and believe it’s essential that we all stick together and keep with Gray and the players, falling out and bickering amongst ourselves will not help the situation. Keep the faith with Gray and we’ll come good.

OWLS ALIVE circliar yeller SPACE

Charlie
Owls Alive
E-mail: admin@owlsalive.com

Twitter: @THEsharpey and @OwlsAlive


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