I still can’t really comprehend what I saw last night at the iPro. A 3-2 last gasp victory after spending most of the game staring defeat to plucky strugglers, Yeovil Town, in the face. A defining moment? Perhaps. It certainly demonstrated, not for the first time, the resilient “never say die” attitude of this team. Yet again, McClaren’s daring, positive substitutions changed a game and wrenched it back in our favour. Something special is happening, without a doubt. Well, I said something to that affect to my brother as we left, so I thought I’d say it again..
Most, if not all, Derby fans were expecting a big victory from this game. So were my brother, my Dad (wearing his lucky, rotating deerstalker) and I. As expected, Bamford was starting, after his two goals in three previous sub appearances.
It started off well didn’t it? Dawkins was his old, tricky, pacy self down the left wing, cutting inside to good effect. He created several openings and hit the post too. Hughes (seemingly restored to form after his “slight rest”) and Bryson were playing further forward and effectively too. Eustace also did well, even advancing forward and having a punt at goal.
All good? No. We weren’t taking our chances. Martin certainly had a few. Despite still being influential for most of the game, he seemed less incisive than we know he can be in the box. Another flouncing dying swan routine in an effort to get a penalty didn’t convince many people either. Certainly not the referee. Most people around me were calling for him to be subbed from about half an hour in. Probably a good thing McClaren didn’t take that option, given what happened at the end. Of course, he is central to the way we play but we must have a Plan B, surely?
What about Yeovil then? They clearly hadn’t come to defend and credit to them for that. Miller and the gigantic Kieffer Moore gave us problems throughout and the whole side had an air of plucky endeavour about it. Before long, unbelievably, we were two nil down. For the first, a long range shot from Lundstram, we should have closed him down more on the edge of the area. Wasn’t the most powerful of shots I’ve seen either. It did knock the stuffing out of us though and we were flailing around badly for the rest of the half. For the second, Miller barged his way into the area, brushed off Keogh with ease and steered his shot past Grant with a neat finish. Not the best of goals to concede.
Probably a good time to mention the Yeovil fans here. There weren’t many of them but they were very vocal, outsinging the rest of the stadium at times. And the bell ringer was an interesting touch, probably the most surreal thing I’ve seen in the away end since the wheelchair pitch invasion at the Boro game.
Anyway, we all expected changes in the second half. Especially the bloke near me who was lamenting the fact that Bamford “is not a winger” and wanted Wardy on. Well he did come on but Bamford stayed out wide. I couldn’t really say for certain what position Wardy was playing but I suppose you could say he was “in the hole”.
I don’t know what formation we were playing second half (3-1-2-4 or 4-2-4??) but it certainly helped. We were camped out on the edge of the Yeovil penalty area for probably all the rest of the game. Bamford, with a flying header, pulled one back early doors and gave us a bit of momentum. Despite a few forays into our half, Yeovil couldn’t cope with us.
Bamford (with a sublime shot) and Forsyth (less sublime) both hit the post and we seemed to create chance after chance. Hughes and Bryson were having brilliant games and Bamford was also proving dangerous on the right (he’s clearly got bags of skill and ability). Keogh and Bucko were a bit more solid at the back and both full backs bombed forward.
Despite all this, the equaliser from Bryson didn’t come until three minutes from time and then the moment of pure ecstasy, a flicked headed goal from Martin (from a set piece of all things!) with about 60 seconds of injury time left. Amazing. The ground erupted, the bell in the Yeovil end fell silent and then it was all over.