The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP -

MAKE no mis­take, this was a tough test for Derby County – and it was one they passed with style and swag­ger.

The Rams swept for­ward and brimmed with con­fi­dence from start to fin­ish. They had to bounce back from a dis­ap­point­ing de­feat to ri­vals Not­ting­ham For­est last time out and they did ex­actly that.

The key to Derby’s suc­cess gen­er­ates from the en­gine room. Young Ge­orge Thorne, re­ju­ve­nated Ja­cob But­ter­field and con­sis­tent Bradley John­son have a su­perb un­der­stand­ing of one an­other’s game.

Paul Cle­ment’s out­fit look solid at the back, tena­cious in mid­field and deadly up front. They were far too good for an in-form Cardiff who had con­ceded just one goal in six Cham­pi­onship games be­fore this match.

As for Cardiff, this game served as a re­al­ity check. The Welsh side looked solid enough in the first half but had no an­swers once they went a goal down. A top-ten fin­ish should be the aim for the Blue­birds.

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