CHALOBAH RUINS STEVE’S RETURN
Sheepish Rams not at races
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
STAR MAN NATHA CHALO NIEL
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