Not a perfect performance by any stretch of the imagination but a 4-2 victory over a decent team is nothing to be sniffed at. The best performance of the season (so far). Five wins out of six. No injury scares. A free scarf. A barnstorming performance from the captain. Some cracking, clinical finishing. And Spicy Kev had a bumper pack of wine gums. What’s not too like?
The team news was encouraging. An unchanged team, what a welcome development that was. If this carries on I won’t be able to keep having a sly dig at Clement’s rotational idiosyncrasies any more. I suppose I will always have the option of moaning about the presence of Ryan Shotton in the squad, though. Where for art thou Alex Pearce? In fact, the only change in the squad was Darren Bent’s return to the bench. Presumably Clement had him booked into the Travelodge on Pride Park since Saturday to ensure he was knocking around the iPro when the team was being selected.
It’s nice to see the team going at opponents with tempo & pace from the start, the earlier games of the season where we seemed hesitant & afraid to attack seem long gone. We were one nil up after three minutes, Martin cracking a curling 20 yard shot into the top corner of the net after excellent interplay from Jeff & Johnson. Got to be one of the best goals he’s ever scored. Premier League quality that.
We continued to attack Wolves in the search for a second. A brilliant volley from Thorne, well saved by Martinez, nearly put us 2 up. Thorne had a reasonable game but was less imperious than against Brentford. Perhaps his most important achievements were completing 90 minutes & not getting booked. Still. His performance allowed Jeff & Brad to focus on getting it forward. As I’ve said before, 433 doesn’t work without him.
After that, we went off the boil a bit. Wolves got into the game & showed they had some attacking quality. They had won their last 2 games 3 nil after all. Afobe, Le Fondre & Henry (who whipped in several dangerous crosses & had the beating of Fozzy in the 1st half) all gave us problems over the course of the game. Thankfully, their defence was pretty awful at times.
Afobe scored the equaliser after about 20 minutes. It was a great strike from a well worked corner routine but you had the suspicion we could have defended that better. It did help rile the crowd (and the team up a bit) though.
Martin’s 2nd was nearly as good as his 1st. Talk about putting your head in where it hurts. Nice little cross from Johnson too, taking advantage of a poor Wolves clearance. Then came the missed penalty. Not the most powerfully hit shot I’ve ever seen. To our credit, we kept going & scored the scruffiest of the day’s goals from the resultant corner. Interesting facial gurning from Johnson during his goal celebration too.
3-1 up at half time, would you believe it? We didn’t really deserve that scoreline but we’d been amazingly clinical. Would Wolves get back into it in the 2nd half?
No, is the simple answer. We came out & played again with a tempo that Wolves simply couldn’t cope with. The movement from Martin, Russell, Johnson & Hendrick was simply breathtaking at times. Martin was winning everything in the air, every pass stuck to him & he even beat one of their defenders for pace (can you believe that?) on one of his many direct runs into the box.
Russell was extremely dangerous in 2nd half & probably deserved more than his poked goal. He’d been a bit quiet in the 1st half, so credit to him for going for it.
At 4-1 up I think we took the foot of the gas a bit but I don’t think we were ever in danger of losing control. Wolves could’ve rattled us if they’d scored earlier in that 1st half but their 2nd, a sweet volley from Le Fondre, was really their only chance. Perhaps Keogh could have done better with that but that’s quibbling to be honest.
As the game proceeded to it’s conclusion all that was left was substitutions for Jeff & Cyrus (presumably to give them some rest after their international efforts) & an opportunity for our captain (& best striker in the world it would appear) to come off & get a standing ovation. It really was an amazing performance from him, probably his best in a Derby shirt, so far. I can’t believe I was calling for him to be dropped a few weeks ago.
The only thing of concern in this game was young Master Ince. A peripheral & anonymous figure for most of the game & when he did get on the ball it didn’t quite come off for him. That’s a bit of a mystery that Clement’s got to solve I think.
We’re getting a bit of momentum going. And with 3 theoretically straightforward games coming up, we could be in a fantastic position by early November.
Onwards & upwards.