MIDDLE MAN INSPIRES RAMS
Having Thorne in his side gives Clement comfort
PAUL CLEMENT insists his players can get even better after watching his team sweep aside the challenge of in-form Cardiff City.
Two second-half goals from midfielders George Thorne and Andreas Weimann saw the highflying Rams seal a crucial three points with relative ease at the iPro Stadium.
Dominant Derby now have just one defeat in 12 league matches as they close in on the top of the table – a run that has not surprised Clement.
“This is a very pleasing win for us but I still think all the players can improve,” said Clement. “We work very hard to make sure we are improving all the time – we never have a bad training session. There is still room to better ourselves.
“We have the players to do this. We have to keep working hard but we were convincing here.
“I have to give credit to the players because they created a lot of chances, used a lot of patience and in the end we got a well-deserved win.
“George Thorne was outstanding in the middle and we are reaping the rewards of him being fully fit.”
It was Derby who looked the more lively following the international break and, after a flowing move, Tom Ince’s curling effort forced a sprawling save from David Marshall on six minutes.
The Rams continued to press and the impressive Marshall produced a stunning save to thwart Andreas Weimann on 16 minutes.
Cardiff looked to break with pace at every opportunity and Joe Mason failed to hit the target from a Kenwyne Jones centre on 24 minutes. And two minutes later, Craig Noone drew a fine save from Scott Carson after being sent clear by Jones. The Cardiff winger should probably have done better.
Derby striker Chris Martin had two loud penalty appeals turned down in the space of as many minutes shortly after the half-hour mark as Derby, as dominant as they were, went into the break frustrated.
The hosts thought they had broken the deadlock two minutes into the second half but Bradley Johnson’s header from a Jacob Butterfield corner was cleared off the line by Joe Ralls. On 54 minutes, Butterfield failed to connect fully with a
low Ince cross that flashed across the Cardiff goal. Any touch with conviction would surely have seen the ball hit the back of the net.
But it was less than a minute before the hosts were celebrating a belated breakthrough. Another splendid move down the right-hand side saw Christie feed Martin, who in turn laid it off for the onrushing Thorne, who made no mistake from 15 yards.
The lead was almost doubled within a minute but Marshall spread himself superbly to deny Martin from close range.
Derby always looked the more potent side in the final third and the points were sealed in the 76th minute.
Thorne’s fierce drive was well saved by Marshall low to his right, but Weimann was in the right place at the right time to smash the ball home.
Jones had a glorious opportunity to reduce the arrears on 85 minutes but he could only head harmlessly over from a left-wing cross. And substitute Sammy Ameobi squandered a similar chance in the dying moments.
Cardiff manager Russell Slade said: “We lost to the better team, I can admit that. Derby are the best side that we have come up against so far and I was impressed with them.
“I was disappointed that their two goals came from our own possession. We are very good at keeping the ball in training but need to do it on the bigger pitches in the bigger games.
“It is important for us now to grab the momentum back again. We know that three or four wins in this league and we can be right back in contention again.”
MAKE A FIST OF IT: Derby’s Jason Shackell in action with Cardiff keeper David Marshall
DOUBLE TIME: Derby’s Andreas Weimann celebrates his goal