DERBY BACK ON THE FRONT FOOT

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Brind­ley

HON­EST Lee Cars­ley ad­mit­ted his latest visit to Derby was only a mar­ginal im­prove­ment af­ter fall­ing to his sec­ond suc­ces­sive de­feat as in­terim Brent­ford head coach.

It was Brent­ford’s fourth de­feat in five, with Chris Martin open­ing the scor­ing be­fore Tom Ince’s smart fin­ish shortly be­fore half-time made it 2-0.

But de­spite his side now ly­ing 20th in the ta­ble, Cars­ley was still able to raise a smile.

“Last time I sat here I was told I was be­ing sold,” joked the 41-year-old who made his name dur­ing seven sea­sons with the Rams be­fore a lu­cra­tive move to Black­burn Rovers.

“It was tough to­day, too, es­pe­cially in the first 15 or 20 min­utes when we looked ner­vous and made sim­ple mis­takes. I changed it around but I’m not sure it worked. Then in the sec­ond half I made a cou­ple of tac­ti­cal changes and we huffed and puffed.

“The poor re­sults are down to a lack of con­fi­dence and I’ll be work­ing on that dur­ing the in­ter­na­tional break.

“I look in the treat­ment room and I don’t know my best 11 – for now, I have to deal with those that are fit.”

With last week’s match-win­ner Dar­ren Bent held up in traf­fic, fel­low for­wards Martin and Ince gave Rams boss Paul Cle­ment his first taste of home com­forts.

Cle­ment de­cided to leave Bent out of his 18 as he was un­sure of his ar­rival time af­ter a ma­jor ac­ci­dent near the ground. But the team’s first-half dis­play made light of their loss.

Cle­ment said: “At half-time at MK Dons, I didn’t know what side I’d been watch­ing. This was much more like what we ex­pect – on the front foot, pres­suris­ing and ex­ploit­ing the spa­ces down the sides.

“I’d al­ready named the side when Dar­ren got to the ground. Nat­u­rally he was dis­ap­pointed.

“We are in a very good po­si­tion now with mo­men­tum and im­prov­ing per­for­mances but we still need to work hard – we were too open in the last 15 min­utes which gave Brent­ford a cou­ple of chances.”

As for­mer man­ager Steve McClaren was hu­mil­i­ated at Manch­ester City, Derby gave their broad­est hint yet they are re­cov­er­ing the form that threat­ened to sweep them into the Premier League in each of the last two sea­sons.

Just one win in their pre­vi­ous ten­home games looked an even more un­likely statis­tic as they dis­patched the visi­tors with ease.

Cau­tion needs to be ap­plied as the man­ager­less Bees are short of the sting they had last term but the Rams looked a pow­er­ful out­fit with new sign­ing Bradley John­son and Ge­orge Thorne phys­i­cally dom­i­nant in mid­field.

Two ex­cel­lent flow­ing moves vir­tu­ally wrapped up the points by half-time.

Cyrus Christie gave a great im­pres­sion of be­ing a right winger in the open­ing quar­ter and, when Ince del­i­cately glanced him clear, his su­perb driven cross was bun­dled in at the far post by Martin.

Thorne be­gan a breath­tak­ing counter at­tack in the 44th minute and when Jeff Hen­drick flicked a pass in­side, Ince fin­ished with style from just in­side the area.

John­son, stum­bling into the box, was de­nied at point-blank range by David But­ton and Hen­drick chipped over as Brent­ford strug­gled to con­tain Derby.

The story was lit­tle dif­fer­ent af­ter the break although Cars­ley used all three sub­sti­tutes to try to turn the tide.

Sub­sti­tute Philipp Hof­mann had Brent­ford’s best chances. He could have done bet­ter than poke tamely at Scott Car­son from 12 yards mid­way through the half be­fore see­ing a late ef­fort cleared off the line by Christie.

PIC­TURES: Media Im­age

ON THE BUT­TON: David But­ton saves from Derby County’s Bradley John­son

GOAL PLAY: Derby County’s Chris Martin cel­e­brates scor­ing his goal

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