GRANT OWNS UP TO ‘BASIC ERROR’
MURPHY’S Law states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong – and after his comical own goal condemned Derby to defeat at Wolves, keeper Lee Grant believes that adage aptly describes the Rams’ current plight.
Derby topped the Championship table as recently as February 28 but a six-game winless run since has left their automatic promotion hopes in tatters and even a top-six finish now seems far from secure.
After a first half at Molineux which saw Tom Ince hit the crossbar and Wolves goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak pull off a number of fine saves, it was the hosts, through Nouha Dicko, who struck first after the break.
And with just over 20 minutes remaining, Grant’s aberration put the game beyond doubt.When it rains, it pours.
Craig Forsyth sliced his clearance straight up in the air causing the Rams keeper to panic and inexplicably punch the spinning ball into his own net.
And the 32-year-old former Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday stopper admitted there was no excuse he dare offer for his costly mistake.
“It was a basic error, really. It’s a ball you deal with 99 times out of 100,” he explained.
“Yes, it’s a difficult ball that’s hanging in the air but, for me, it’s a ball that I would consistently deal with and enjoy dealing with.
“It ended up spinning off the back of my gloves and going in the net. As a senior player, you pride yourself on not making those errors but, unfortunately, I’ve made one.
“Things aren’t dropping for us and what we have to do is create our own luck, we have to work hard, try and be consistent and, for large parts, we have done that.”
In truth, Derby should have been ahead by half-time but were repelled by a combination of the woodwork and inspired goalkeeping.
Ince curled an effort inches too high and Kuszczak made fulllength saves to deny Jesse Lingard and Craig Bryson.
Former England striker Darren Bent also went down on the edge of the box under the challenge of Danny Batth, who appeared to be the last man, but referee Keith Stroud ruled a free-kick was sufficient punishment.
And the game turned just three minutes into the second period – Forsyth giving the ball away to Kevin McDonald who fed Dicko and the Malian striker fired past Grant with the help of a slight deflection for his 11th goal of the season.
To their credit, the Rams responded, forcing Kuszczak into further saves from Lingard and Bryson while at the other end, Benik Afobe clipped the bar.
Then, on 69 minutes, Grant’s rush of blood to the head ended the game as a contest, with the visitors never likely to overturn a two-goal deficit.
Steve McClaren’s troops registered 19 shots in all but after failing to convert any,Wolves are now just two points behind their opponents.
However, manager Kenny Jackett insists the Rams are still a team his own promotion hopefuls are keen to emulate.
“I like the way Derby play and have got a great deal of respect for the job Steve McClaren has done,” said Jackett.
“They play a style of football that could be successful in the Premier League.
“After beating us 5-0 earlier in the season, it looked like there was a chasm between us, but to now be only two points behind them is an excellent achievement.
“If you are looking at the last two seasons I think Derby have been a bit of a benchmark for the Championship.
“We need to keep improving and look at clubs like Derby, who we are trying to match.”
BLUNDER: Derby County keeper Lee Grant puts the ball in his own net for the clincher
HERE WE GO: Nouha Dicko celebrates the opener