FairweatherFan

Derby 0-0 Millwall ~ Match Report

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A nice easy trip to Pride Park to see the Lions take on the Rams was just the tonic for a bank holiday Monday that would otherwise be spent fretting over the end of the holidays and back to work syndrome that befalls most, if not all, of us at this time of year.

The sweet thoughts of the Palace annihilation were confined to the memory banks as me and MrsB climbed aboard the Bonemobile and set sail up the M1 to Derby. What can you say about Derby that people don’t already know? They are universally derided as the club that let Cloughie go and let’s be honest, no matter how much arse licking they continue to do (including employing his eldest boy as Manager) they will never extinguish the history that shows them up for the idiots they were. It is a mournful legacy indeed.

I like the stadium though, always have done since its construction back in the late nineties and to their credit the fans do tend pack the place out regardless of league position or form.

But...

Something has gone seriously wrong with their enthusiasm and passion as they were, on this occasion, on a par with the Trappist monks of Ipswich (OK smart arses, I know the original monks were from Normandy but anyone who went Ipswich this season will back me up on this).

Pride Park was as silent as a Buster Keaton movie after the piano player had forgot to show up. The only noise was coming from the 600 odd hardy souls who had joined me and MrsB in the away section.

I think Derby fans had taken the Four Seasons quite literally and firmly believed that Silence is Golden, but I tell you, it was quite surreal. Their version of Deano ‘Last Man’ Standing did his best but the home fans were resolutely tipping him bollocks at every opportunity and his pleas wafting out over the PA system might just as well been in Swahili.

We were in fine fettle though and it was astonishing at times how loud we seemed to be but bearing in mind we had no competition and nothing to judge against, who could say for sure?

Now, Mr Jackett had issues to sort out and the first one was whether or not to pay flu stricken striker Steve Morison and I am glad to say that Steve got up off his sick bed and made the starting eleven but horror of horrors, three goal hero Puncheon was nowhere to be seen....cue mass hysteria on the web sites again, but the party line was he had been suffering from a ‘dead leg’ and was being rested.

The rest of the team lined up as follows; Forde, Smith, Ward, Craig, Barron, Henry, Abdou, Schofield, Mkandawire, Trotter and, of course, Morison.

AS a bitterly cold wind swept across us referee Wright got things going and we looked a pretty confident bunch, it has to be said. All the football was coming from us as Derby were chasing us all over the park.

Morison was desperately unlucky on about the five minute mark. Henry turned his marker inside out over on the right flank and he squared a perfect ball for Morison but the ball bobbled and his effort from ten yards failed to open the scoring.

Morison had another glorious chance minute’s later after Trotter, dominant in midfield all game, skipped down the right and fed Henry who again pinpointed a ball to the far post where Morison got to it but his header flew into the side netting.

We had corner after corner and I lost count how many but we never capitalised on any of them. Derby were fighting a total rear guard action by now and we were clearly a step above them but we just could not convert any of the possession into goals.

We had a brief blip soon after that when Barron did a Ward and fumbled a back pass but Derby were never competent enough to capitalise on this minor indiscretion.

Henry was having a lot of the ball and again he saw off his markers and put in a decent diagonal ball to Barron who in turn slipped it invitingly into Schofield’s path but the midfielder, usually so calm and collected, hurried his shot and it flew past the goal.

Morison was up again after a longish ball out of defence saw Trotter head it into his path but I think Schofield got in his way and the shot was well saved by Bywater in the Rams goal but gave us yet another corner, the resulting kick by Henry found Morison’s head but he couldn’t get the ball down and it went for a goal kick.

We then put together a lovely move from defence into attack starting when Smith, looking very assured, passed neatly to Abdou who quickly fed the ball to Schofield who in turn played it wide to Barron overlapping down the left. Barron then picked out the inrushing Trotter who hit a snap shot that just scraped over the bar. It would have been a classic if it had gone in.
We didn’t relent from our attacking play and soon after we were at their throats again, this time trotter the provider after good work between him and Schofield he knocked the ball across the face of their goal to the waiting Henry but the winger, usually quite deadly in front of goal, pushed the ball wide of the post with Bywater well beaten.

It was becoming so one sided but we just could not find the net. Derby had nothing to offer in the way of attack and we just bossed the game completely.

We finished the half off with another good move involving trotter and Schofield, the latter blasting his shot well wide of the mark though.

A very polished and dominating first half by the Lions but no goals to show for it.


The second half saw no changes from Mr Jackett but the tempo of the game was clearly not going to keep pace with the first half as tired legs were going to play their part but we kept to the game plan and carried on playing the ball around and generally giving the home side a lesson in possession.

The home crowd finally made some noise as we definitely heard a small voice over to our left yell out “Please take me home, daddy”. And who could blame the poor little mite, the temperature was dropping faster than the silk drawers of a Berlin whore and their team was being systematically taken apart but all to no avail as the goal would not materialise for us.

Another brief respite for the over worked Derby defence saw a huge hoofed clearance miraculously fall straight to Commons whose burst of speed unfortunately was all that he could gain credit for as his attempted shot at Forde was hopelessly inept. I have seen Tony Craig hit a pass back to Forde harder.

We pressed on after this and Schofield fired in a shot from distance that was always rising high when he really should have been looking to his wings as we had players available.

With twenty minutes remaining Mr Jackett decided to get some fresh legs on and he took off Schofield and the clearly knackered Morison and brought on McQuoid and Robbo. This meant that Barron moved up into midfield and Craig went to left back to accommodate our returning captain.

Moments later we had created another chance, this time the ball was worked down the flank by Trotter who had Henry to pass to. He in turn used Smith on the overlap. The full back attempted a cross but the ball was cut out by a Derby defender but the ball returned to Smith who hit a shot hard a low right across the face of the goal and just beyond the far post.

After that it seemed as if both teams were settling for a point a piece as the tiredness really kicked in and the referee was continually stopping the game for fouls which were more out of fatigue than intent.

The final whistle went and we applauded the lads off the pitch as it was a sterling away performance that really should have reaped all three points but it brought to a close a really useful holiday period for the Lions which has taken the run of games undefeated to eight now and another clean sheet as well, it certainly all bodes well for the rest of the season.

The march back to the car was interesting only for the fact that it was done in virtual silence as the Derby crowd proved that it wasn’t just inside the ground that they could give Marcel Marceau a run for his money, it was eerily quiet all the way back to the car park with thousands of derby fans trundling along like extras from a George Romero movie.

Still, the league can take a back seat this coming Saturday as we welcome the premiership to the Den for our FA Cup third round encounter with Birmingham City.

See you all there?
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