Cle­ment con­tent as side hit three

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Mark Wil­liams

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.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

GROUP HUG: Ja­cob But­ter­field cel­e­brates with team­mates af­ter scor­ing Derby’s sec­ond. In­set: Derby’s An­dreas Weimann nets the first goal

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