CHALOBAH RU­INS STEVE’S RE­TURN

Sheep­ish Rams not at races

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Colin Hen­rys To com­ment on this match go to http://boards.footy­mad.net/

THERE was no happy home-com­ing for Steve McClaren who ad­mits Derby’s pro­mo­tion push is in dan­ger of hit­ting the buf­fers af­ter de­feat to Middlesbrough.

McClaren was af­forded a warm re­cep­tion by the home fans in his first match at the River­side since leav­ing to take the Eng­land job in 2006.

But on-loan Chelsea mid­fielder Nathaniel Chalobah struck in the sec­ond half to con­sign Derby to a third de­feat in four away games and McClaren ad­mit­ted he had suf­fered a frus­trat­ing af­ter­noon.

He said: “It was nice to get the re­cep­tion from the fans, but we come away very dis­ap­pointed with no points af­ter not putting in a good per­for­mance.

“I had five great years here and it’s nice the pub­lic recog­nise that.With the ap­plause it was nice for a minute but the other 90 had me squirm­ing in my seat.

“It’s a big op­por­tu­nity missed. This was al­ways go­ing to be tough but some­times it’s not about the re­sult, it’s about the per­for­mance and that’s what dis­ap­pointed me most.

“It wasn’t how we nor­mally play. We didn’t play at tempo. There was no pen­e­tra­tion and nor­mally we are bet­ter than that – we need to get back to those lev­els.

“I can take los­ing, I can take de­feats but what was dis­ap­point­ing was the way we per­formed.”

Danny Gra­ham wasted a good Middlesbrough chance on the quar­ter-hour, blaz­ing well over af­ter beat­ing the off­side trap to run on to Lee Tom­lin’s pass.

Lee Tom­lin showed great skill to turn Craig Bryson on 34 min­utes, but he shot tamely at Lee Grant when clean through on goal.

At the other end, top scorer Chris Martin got across Kenneth Omeruo to meet Craig Forsyth’s cross on 39 min­utes but could not con­trol his shot which went well wide.

Martin turned provider on the stroke of half-time, pick­ing out Bryson with a well-weighted cross but the mid­fielder was un­able to turn it goal­wards.

Derby started the sec­ond-half brighter, Bryson see­ing a low shot saved by Dim­itrios Kon­stan­topou­los on 48 min­utes be­fore Patrick Bam­ford headed over two min­utes later.

Bam­ford then beat Ge­orge Friend with ease on 63 min­utes but saw his low shot blocked and An­dre Wis­dom fired the re­bound just wide across goal.

Mo­ments later at the other end, Chalobah’s ball over the top re­leased Al­bert Adomah who volleyed just wide un­der pres­sure.

Chalobah fi­nally broke the dead­lock on 69 min­utes though, Em­manuel Ledesma re­leas­ing the Chelsea loa­nee who took one touch to beat his marker be­fore slot­ting coolly across Grant.

Adomah could have made it two on 76 min­utes, find­ing space in the area, but his touch let him down when Friend ri­fled a cross in.

Derby pushed hard for an equaliser, but Jake Bux­ton could not con­vert at the back post as Bryson’s deep free-kick beat ev­ery­one with five min­utes re­main­ing.

Boro boss Ai­tor Karanka said:“It was a very good win. I’m very happy be­cause again we have showed ev­ery­body that we can win these games.

“We de­served to win here in pre­vi­ous matches – against Not­ting­ham For­est, Leeds, Black­burn – and we didn’t.

“But this time I am very happy be­cause when a team works like mine does, the best gift is to be win­ning games.

“The most im­por­tant thing is to win.We need to be com­pet­ing in ev­ery game un­til the end of the sea­son, be­cause when you lose it is then dif­fi­cult to train.

“The best way to pre­pare for games and to pre­pare for train­ing is by win­ning. For this I am re­ally pleased, be­cause we have shown now we are im­prov­ing our win­ning men­tal­ity.”

ALL SMILES: Nathaniel Chalobah, sec­ond left, cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing the win­ner

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

STAR MAN NATHA CHALO NIEL

BAH Mid­dle sbroug

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