RAMPANT RAMS RUN OVER DONS
Clement content as side hit three
PAUL Clement has fired a warning shot to the rest of the Championship after Derby County cemented their play-off spot with a thumping victory over rock-bottom Rotherham United.
Two fine first-half goals from midfield duo Andreas Weimann and Jacob Butterfield were followed by a third from Richard Keogh late on to stretch the Rams’ unbeaten league run to nine games.
In truth, it could have been a cricket score as time and time again Derby’s lively attacks carved open the visiting defence.
And Clement believes his side’s momentum and confidence are both building all the time.
He said:“We are showing more and more qualities, in our attacking play and especially our team spirit. We are in a really good moment.
“We controlled the game and we are pleased with a really solid afternoon's work.”
Clement added injured forward Tom Ince has a 50/50 chance of featuring against bitter rivals Nottingham Forest away on Friday evening.
He said: “We are growing in confidence all the time. We have a good squad and I will choose my team on merit.”
A dominant Derby opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a superb team goal. An inch-perfect through ball from Butterfield sent Craig Forsyth sprinting down the left and his centre was crashed home by the onrushing Weimann.
The hosts were in the mood from the first whistle and minutes after the opening goal, a rasping strike from Butterfield forced a sprawling save from former Forest stopper Lee Camp.
Another flowing move had the crowd on its feet on 20 minutes, but Johnny Russell could only fire over the bar from a Cyrus Christie cross.
At the other end Jonson ClarkeHarris warmed the hands of Scott Carson with a low drive from a tight angle.
But it was wave after wave of Derby attacks and on the half-hour mark, Bradley Johnson should have done better with a header at the far stick from a Russell cross.
The Millers began to edge their way into the game late in the half but couldn’t do enough in and around the hosts’ penalty box.
And they were made to pay on the stroke of half-time when the impressive Butterfield finished off another fine move. It was pass after pass on the edge of the Rotherham box before the midfielder unleashed a fierce drive into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
The visitors enjoyed a bright spell soon after the break with Danny Ward going close from distance on 53 minutes.
However, normal service resumed when, two minutes later, Weimann almost grabbed his second when his lob was cleared off the line.
The hosts did seal the points on 76 minutes when, seconds after Chris Martin rattled the crossbar from a free-kick, central defender Keogh bundled the ball home from close range.
Rotherham boss Neil Redfearn said: “There is a gulf in class developing between the teams in the top six and below but my gripe is that they can all be pushed closer than what we did to Derby.
“It was a very tough game but I am disappointed because we didn’t do enough.
“They were the better side by a mile in the first half. It looked like some of our players were in awe of Derby.”
Redfearn added he is looking to bring in loan players this week, saying: “We are certainly looking – we just need to get them over the line.”
GROUP HUG: Jacob Butterfield celebrates with teammates after scoring Derby’s second. Inset: Derby’s Andreas Weimann nets the first goal