DERBY BACK ON THE FRONT FOOT
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.
ON THE BUTTON: David Button saves from Derby County’s Bradley Johnson
GOAL PLAY: Derby County’s Chris Martin celebrates scoring his goal