OOH YES! Derby County’s Chris Martin cel­e­brates scor­ing his sec­ond in their 2-1 win at Pre­ston

Vic­tory at last for Rams

The Football League Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Dunlavy

CLIN­I­CAL Chris Martin handed Paul Cle­ment his first win as Derby boss – but vic­tory was marred by a nasty in­jury to skip­per Chris Baird.

The North­ern Ire­land midfielder clashed heads with Joe Garner and was out cold be­fore he even hit the deck.

Paramedics even­tu­ally took 15 min­utes to strap Baird onto a spinal board and ferry him into a wait­ing am­bu­lance, tak­ing the gloss off a com­fort­able win.

“We’re hop­ing Chris isn’t too bad,” said Cle­ment. “He was un­con­scious for a while and the rea­son for the long de­lay was pre­cau­tion­ary re­gard­ing his neck.You have to be very care­ful in these sit­u­a­tions.

“He’s gone off to hos­pi­tal to have some checks but when he came past me I got a smile and a thumbs up so hope­fully it isn’t as se­ri­ous as it looked.”

Cle­ment was in­debted to Martin for the goals that lifted the weight off his shoul­ders, but it was the twin­kling toes and rapier pace of winger Johnny Rus­sell that re­ally did the dam­age.

The Scot, signed by Nigel Clough in 2013, was no in­stant smash at the iPro, of­ten ap­pear­ing light­weight and waste­ful in his early days.

Now, quicker, bulkier and vis­i­bly brim­ming with con­fi­dence, the 25-year-old has evolved into Derby’s cre­ator-in-chief, lead­ing breaks and link­ing play like a Cham­pi­onship ver­sion of Eden Haz­ard.

His pass for the opener was pure David Beck­ham, a per­fect­lyflighted 40-yard ball ex­pertly plucked from the sky by Martin. His shot, cutely slid through the legs of Jor­dan Pick­ford, was the acme of com­po­sure.

For his next trick, Rus­sell twice bam­boo­zled the hap­less Paul Hunt­ing­ton, who re­sponded by haul­ing him to earth. Martin was again the ben­e­fi­ciary, smack­ing a fear­some free-kick into Pick­ford’s top cor­ner.

“Johnny’s a hard-work­ing player with a great at­ti­tude,” added Cle­ment.“He’s cre­ated a won­der­ful goal, looked dan­ger­ous on the counter. He’s play­ing with real con­fi­dence and I’m very, very pleased with him.”

Game ef­fec­tively over, the Rams took their foot off the gas. Pre­ston at­tempted to re­spond but, aside from the pen­e­trat­ing runs of Daniel John­son, strug­gled pick a path past Jason Shack­ell and Richard Keogh.

Will Keane,par­tic­u­larly,looked a lit­tle boy lost against a rugged Derby back four,do­ing lit­tle more than run around be­fore his 55thminute de­par­ture.

Eoin Doyle, on as a sub fol­low­ing his dead­line day loan from Cardiff, forced a save from the re­called Lee Grant. Last year’s top scorer Joe Garner, yet to get off the mark in the Cham­pi­onship, then struck a post.

“I’m not wor­ried about Joe,” said Pre­ston boss Si­mon Grayson. “I just think he’s a marked man af­ter his ex­ploits last year. He’s not hav­ing much luck but I’m sure he’ll get on a run very soon.”

In the end, it took 100 min­utes for the home side to find the net, John­son bending a fine low shot into Grant’s bot­tom cor­ner. By then, Derby were play­ing with ten men hav­ing used all their subs prior to Baird’s in­jury.They might have ex­pected a siege, but the kitchen sink never came.

“We didn’t man­age the game well enough,” said Grayson.“We were mess­ing around, pass­ing the ball in the mid­dle.

“When you’re a man up in in­jury-time, get some­thing into the box and see what hap­pens. It’s not pretty but some­thing could drop. The play­ers need to learn that.”

Cle­ment, who had over­seen a de­feat and four draws be­fore ar­riv­ing at Deep­dale, added: “I’m de­lighted to get off the mark. It’s been frus­trat­ing be­cause we’ve played well enough to win games.”

PIC­TURE: CameraSport

HIGH FOOT: Pre­ston North End’s Joe Garner vies for pos­ses­sion with Cyrus Christie

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