Cle­ment is given a Trot­ters test

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By An­drew Gib­ney

ALTHOUGH Derby County start the new league cam­paign as one of the favourites to gain pro­mo­tion, Paul Cle­ment’s side were given a tough open­ing day test against a res­o­lute Bolton Wan­der­ers.

A spir­ited sec­ond-half dis­play from Neil Len­non’s side saw them de­nied three times by the cross­bar as they im­pressed with a rous­ing goal­less draw – only blot­ted by the late red card for Jay Spear­ing fol­low­ing a sec­ond yel­low for sim­u­la­tion in the 86th minute.

Go­ing into the game as un­der­dogs, it was the Trot­ters that started the brighter of the two teams. Len­non set his side up in a 4-4-2 with a diamond mid­field against Cle­ment’s pacey 4-3-3, but for all Bolton’s early play, it was Derby that cre­ated the best two chances of the first-half.

Jeff Hen­drick made a lovely run down the right-wing to latch on to a Chris Baird pass, the sub­sti­tute – on for Craig Bryson – did very well to pick out Johnny Rus­sell’s run and the Scot­tish for­ward could only watch as his shot came off the top of the cross­bar.

Just four min­utes later, goal­keeper Ben Amos had to save well with his feet to stop Rus­sell’s low shot find­ing the far cor­ner. Be­fore they could take the sub­se­quent set­piece, Cle­ment was forced to make his sec­ond change in just the first 30 min­utes when Will Hughes col­lided with Prince-De­sir Gouano off the ball.

“I am not ex­actly sure how it hap­pened,” Cle­ment ex­plained af­ter the game. “He was in a lit­tle bit of dis­tress and we needed to make that change.

“The ex­tent of both the in­juries, we’re not sure yet, we’ll get a full med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion when we get back to Derby.

“In the end it was prob­a­bly a fair re­sult. Maybe they will be more dis­ap­pointed than us, be­cause they hit the wood­work three times in the sec­ond half, us in the first. Over­all, I think our play­ers showed a lot of char­ac­ter – es­pe­cially dur­ing that pe­riod.”

Len­non waited un­til the 73rd minute to make his first change, but the en­trance of Emile Heskey for Zach Clough lifted the home crowd and nearly inspired the home side to an inspired vic­tory.

Lawrie Wil­son had al­ready im­pressed on his Bolton de­but, curl­ing in a num­ber of dan­ger­ous right-foot crosses in the first half. With 15 min­utes to go, a tempt­ing de­liv­ery to the near post saw Heskey beat Scott Car­son to the ball, but ag­o­nis­ingly watched as it bounced back off the cross­bar.

In his first com­pet­i­tive game as Rams boss, Cle­ment had the wood­work to thank for his first point. Wil­son again pro­vided the am­mu­ni­tion, and twice Gary Ma­dine was de­nied a goal on his de­but by the cross­bar.

Bolton were push­ing for a goal, Spear­ing – who had been ex­cel­lent through­out – beat Richard Keogh down the left be­fore fall­ing to the ground. Ref­eree An­drew Madley sig­nalled that there was no foul and then bran­dished the midfielder with a sec­ond yel­low card.

“I think it’s harsh,” said Len­non when asked about the de­ci­sion. “I can un­der­stand the ref­eree, maybe, from the an­gle he’s at, but I don’t think Jay needs to go down be­cause he’s in.

“He ac­tu­ally just fell over his own feet, it’s prob­a­bly fa­tigue more than any­thing.

“I’m go­ing to have a word with our grounds­man about the size of that cross­bar, it looked a foot long in the sec­ond half.We were very, very good against an ex­cel­lent side.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

NO WAY THROUGH: Derby County’s Jason Shack­ell heads the ball off the line to help keep Bolton at bay

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