Well, that was rather pleasing. A victory against the form team in the division & a chance to put those defeats against Wigan & Brentford behind us. Not the most fluid of performances for sure & really scrappy at times, but we were resilient & certainly deserved the win. I must bring my dad more often, as he has a 100% record this season – two games, two wins.
Team selection was a tad surprising but I’ve never been able to predict a team since McClaren came back. Mascarell retained, when many thought The Old Warrior would be back in the side (back to basics, anyone?) Bryson out injured, not for the first time this season. Not sure he merited a place anyway but he does seem to be undropable in McClaren’s eyes. Shotton back, probably because Bucko’s not fit enough to play 3 games in 8 days. I like Shotton. And Bucko. Whoever partners Keogh, I just think they need a run in the side to establish some sort of consistency in central defence. Ibe was back in too, which could be a sign that Dawkins is not fully fit either..
Anyway.. We started well with a good tempo & thankfully were ahead after 7 mins to a cracking goal by Ibe, following a great one-two with Jeff. He’s clearly got a knack for scoring but is frustratingly inconsistent, losing possession so many times in this game. I suppose a bit of inconsistency is to be expected at his age & he is in the best place (with the best coaching team) to iron that out before he goes back to Liverpool.
Huddersfield were clearly showing why they’ve been getting so many good results recently & got back into things quickly. Nakhi Wells was looking dangerous & outpaced Shotton before having an angled drive saved by Butland (rather unconvincingly I thought). The danger signs were there & the tricky Harry Bunn equalised shortly afterwards. From where I was sitting, he appeared to have been given way too much freedom in our penalty area. Not good.
Things got a bit messy after that, with composure & common sense being cast aside all over the pitch. However, we were back in the lead just before half time as Martin & Russell linked up well in the box, resulting in a possibly offside goal for Super Johnny. He deserved that though as he’s been our stand out player in the last four games.
Two goals in a first half at the iPro. Would you believe it?! No changes during half time, obviously a sign that McClaren was pretty content with the way things were going. Things proceeded in much the same way in the second half & we definitely had the better of it. Still a bit scrappy though & the game was open enough for one to suspect that there were more goals to come. A third goal for us arrived for us on 77 mins, another fine strike by Dancing Dawkins, just a minute after coming on as sub for Super Johnny (who had left to a massive standing ovation). We had a good two goal cushion, so all that was needed was for us to see it out. Or concede another sloppy goal, this time from that old bug bear of ours, the set piece. But it was too late. Three points in the bag.
The defence still concerns me (& probably most Rams fans). 8 goals conceded in four games, something has to be done about that. And I don’t think the answer is to rotate Whitbread, Shotton & Bucko alongside Keogh. Keogh was brilliant again but it’s clear he’s just about holding that back four together.
Butland did well, his distribution has already improved & he’s clearly a talented shot stopper. Still lacks a bit of authority in the box though & is still a way off the standard we’ve come to expect from Granty. One suspects, Mr Steele will be working hard to rectify that.
I’m pleased that Mascarell is now starting regularly, he gives us a lot more in terms of mobility & his passing range than we get with Eusty. He also got stuck in too which was pleasing to see. He’s also added a different dimension with free kicks & corners, which of course was sorely needed.
Right, on to Saturday & let’s see if we can get a result against Wolves. I’ve tended to shy away from looking at the table since the Wigan debacle but it’s clear that if we just keep plugging away & picking up points we’ll be in a pretty good position come Christmas time.
Onwards & upwards.