Well, there you go. It’s not about performances any more, it’s about results. And we got a result, slightly consolidated our play-off position, sent the fans home happy (yes, even me) &, hopefully, gave the team a bit of confidence & togetherness following that Rotherham debacle. And it’s always nice to beat that lot from down the road.
Awful game, though.
Wassall sprung a bit of a surprise in the team selection. Christie dropped to the bench, replaced by Hanson. Given that Thorne is now sort of back to full fitness, there’s not much of a future in midfield for the chosen one for the rest of the season, so perhaps Mel (sorry, Wassall) felt he had to lever him into the side somewhere. The rest of the side remained as against Rotherham. Well, we had played our best football of the season there (apparently). For 82 minutes. I’ve looked for an explanation about Hanson’s inclusion in the local media and aside from Wassall saying he “picked a side to win the game” haven’t found owt. He did alright. But he’s not Cyrus. Obviously.
The atmosphere was pretty raucous as me, Hipster Brother & The Witch got to the ground. There were a few intellectually disturbing sights as we passed the away turnstiles but as we got into the South West Corner there was an air of positivity about things. Great to see the new flag unfurled in the South Stand too, what a beautiful sight.
I know it’s a bit a cliché but these derby matches are normally attritional affairs, carried off at a frenetic pace, with errors abounding. Yer 5-0 (2014) & yer 4-1 (1979 & my 2nd Rams game) results are few & far between. Perhaps we’ll see another deforestation around 2030.
The 1st half was frenetic, of course. Forest did well, actually, knocking the ball around & retaining possession well. They’ve got obvious failings in attack though. I don’t think they had a shot on goal until Wardy got on the pitch late on. We were poor all over the pitch. Yet again, it appeared difficult to pass the ball to the team mate standing 2 metres away.
Chances? Martin failed to launch himself, Houchen-like, at a fantastic cross from the excellent Olsson. Ince shot narrowly over from outside the box. Forest were the better team though. It didn’t bode well for the 2nd half to be honest.
Thankfully, we improved in the 2nd half. We began to carve out a few more chances. Johnson shot narrowly wide from outside the box. That was his only contribution to the game. What a waste of £6 million. He was utter rubbish. Bryson, with a typical (well, typical from 2 season’s ago) all action performance, began to have a real impact on the game from central midfield. Ince, especially after Russell came on & was a constant threat. I much prefer him on the left. He has more space there, more balance. Have I said that before?
The breakthrough came after 79 mins, some great work by Martin & Bryson on the edge of the box & then Ince slipped the ball through to Olsson, unmarked & in acres of space. Bob’s yer uncle. 1-0. I celebrated that a bit robustly but it felt good to be excited about a Derby goal again.
With 11 mins (plus 5 mins of extra time) left we were still obviously capable of throwing everything away & losing 1-6. Not to this pathetic bunch though. It seemed like an eternity before the whistle went. Time for a few handbags in the 6 yard box & bookings for Keogh & Mills, an euphoric robust defensive cameo from Bucko, a fantastic last ditch blocking tackle from Thorne. Then it was all over.
What did it all mean then?
Well, Olsson had is best game for us, putting in some great crosses. And what a great finish.
The Hanson thing really didn’t pay off for me. If the idea was to be more solid in defence, I don’t think he adds enough there to compensate for his lack of ability going forward.
Wassall was notably less bombastic in his post match interviews & I think managed to be polite for once. No fist pumping approach to the South Stand this time, as he focused on hugging each player as they came off the pitch. There you go, we DO have team spirit after all.. Until the next crisis. But it’s obvious he’s in position until the end of the season & he must be a show in for permanent boss if we get in the play offs. We’re still 5th. Yes, the same position we were in when Clement was given the boot.
Harry’s influence? I’m not particularly convinced by the whole mentor/senior advisory support thing. Harry’s remit seems very vague – just have a chat now & again, basically. We’ll see how that pans out for the rest of the season.
Anyway, onwards & upwards with Harry’s black & white army..