WASSALL STAYING COOL AFTER LOSS
NEW head coach Darren Wassall says it is no time to panic despite kicking off his managerial tenure at Derby County with a lacklustre defeat to MK Dons.
The Rams’ promotion hopes are fading fast because of no wins in eight league matches and this latest defeat was against a side who had previously not won away since the opening game of the season.
Jake Forster-Caskey’s late free-kick was enough to bag the points for Karl Robinson’s charges, who hung on with relative ease at the iPro Stadium.
Wassall said:“I am certainly not panicking – it is not the time for that.
“We are disappointed with the result but not the performance. I am extremely proud of the players. In fact I have been delighted with them since I took over on Tuesday.
“We got 26 crosses into the box and we had 60 per cent possession. We didn’t deserve to lose the game.
“We are very confident we will get it right at Derby because we have some gifted players. The problem at the moment is we are short of confidence on the field. It is important we get that first win in a long while and we can push on again.”
MK Dons came close to opening the scoring, following an abysmal first 20 minutes to the game from both sides, when Rob Hall’s inswinging corner almost dropped in at the far post.
The home faithful sang loud and proud in a bid to kick-start their ailing heroes, but a string of corners was the best the home side could produce in the opening half hour.
The Rams finally created a chance after 32 minutes, but Bradley Johnson screwed the ball high and wide from an inviting Cyrus Christie cross. A minute later and Jason Shackell glanced a header just wide from a Jeff Hendrick delivery.
Visiting goalkeeper David Martin was forced into his first meaningful save on the stoke of half-time – palming away a stinging Bradley drive – and he was at it again deep into injury time to deny Chris Martin on the turn.
Derby’s momentum continued after the break, a decent move ending with Johnson heading narrowly wide of the near post on 47 minutes.
Winger Tom Ince, once so creative at this level, again failed to fire, although he did go close from distance after 57 minutes.
At the other end, the Dons were neat and tidy in spells but, as all too often away from home this season, lacked that cutting edge.
Jacob Butterfield came within inches of breaking the deadlock on 72 minutes when he cut inside before striking a long-range effort inches wide.
But Derby were becoming more and more frustrated and, following a brief spell of pressure, the underdogs took the lead – and in some style.
Forster-Caskey took an age to line up a free-kick on the edge of the box but duly curled the ball into the top corner with eight minutes remaining.
Derby pressed late on but Ince wasted horribly from six yards, not even getting the ball on target.
Buoyant boss Robinson said:“I think this is probably one of the best wins in the club’s history away from home – nobody gave us a chance.
“I thought my players’ mentality and desire was superb. Derby have some very talented players, we were the underdogs, but we did what we had to do.Were we dominant? No. Did we play good football? No. But we dropped our pride and got a brilliant win.
“Make no mistake this is a wonderful day for me as a manager, the players and the club. We really needed the points.”
STAR MAN DAVID MARTI