Derby earned a cru­cial vic­tory against arch-ri­vals For­est

Derby win East Mid­lands duel

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Chris Dunlavy

DERBY are ac­cus­tomed to dress­ing room in­cur­sions. Two months ago, the ar­rival of chair­man Mel Mor­ris pre­saged the demise of Paul Cle­ment and set in mo­tion a cat­a­strophic loss of form.

This time, the in­ter­ven­tion was far more wel­come as a new ‘foot­ball ad­vi­sor’ Harry Red­knapp sparked vic­tory over trou­bled ri­vals For­est.

Drafted in to help rookie boss Dar­ren Was­sall, Red­knapp – man­ager of QPR when the Hoops beat Derby in the 2014 Cham­pi­onship play-off fi­nal – watched a mori­bund first half from the di­rec­tors’ box be­fore de­scend­ing to dis­pense a bit of wis­dom at the break.

The re­sult was a vastly im­proved dis­play, a beau­ti­ful goal from full-back Mar­cus Ols­son and a third home win on the spin that lifted the Rams to within six points of se­cond-placed Mid­dles­brough.

“Harry has been with us since Thurs­day and we’ve wel­comed him with open arms,” said Was­sall, who is in charge un­til the end of the sea­son. “I mean, who wouldn’t want a man of that ex­pe­ri­ence?

“He worked with us on Thurs­day and Fri­day, get­ting to know the play­ers and the staff. I told him I want him wher­ever he feels he can help.

“He was in the dress­ing room be­fore kick-off. I was happy to take some ad­vice, but he said ‘I’ll leave it to you’ and that’s what he did.

“At half-time he came down with Kevin Phillips. Like ev­ery week, we had a talk about what they’ve seen up­stairs, whether we need to change any­thing. It was busi­ness as usual, but with Harry of­fer­ing his sug­ges­tions.

“His years in the game will im­prove all of us and if he can help us in our pro­mo­tion push – even if that’s just one or two per cent – we’ll be ab­so­lutely de­lighted.

“He wants to be part of some­thing suc­cess­ful here and, be­sides, he owes us one be­cause he beat us in the last play-off fi­nal!”

De­feat was harsh on For­est, just as the 1-0 score­line flat­tered a wretched game. Rarely can th­ese an­cient ri­vals have met in such a mis­er­able state and the par­lous men­tal­ity of both was ev­i­dent in a cagey mess of a match.

Last week’s home bat­ter­ing at the hands of Sh­effield Wed­nes­day spelled the end for For­est boss Dougie Freed­man, sacked on the back of one win in seven games.

Derby, mean­while, con­trived to squan­der a 3-0 lead to Rother­ham in the fi­nal eight min­utes, reaf­firm­ing a rep­u­ta­tion as the divi­sion’s big­gest chok­ers. Avoid­ing de­feat was, there­fore, high on the agenda for both sides and ex­plained why crunch­ing tack­les and hope­ful punts far out­weighed chances and cre­ativ­ity.

Gary Gard­ner and David Vaughan ex­celled at the base of For­est’s mid­field, as did Ge­orge Thorne for the Rams. Michael Man­ci­enne, too, was im­mense against the bruis­ing, bul­ly­ing Chris Martin.

Yet open­ings were scant. Be­sides a cou­ple of pot-shots from Tom Ince, Dorus De Vries had noth­ing to keep him warm for an hour.

Poor Scott Car­son, mean­while, could have sat in the stand against a tooth­less For­est side whose only ef­fort on tar­get was a weak Jamie Ward strike in the 93rd minute.

Though weak­ened by the baf­fling with­drawal of Chris Co­hen and in­creas­ingly forced into re­verse, it took a mis­take to set­tle mat­ters.

Ryan Men­des dwelt in pos­ses­sion, al­low­ing Ince to bun­dle in and play in Ols­son. The left-back, a men­ace all day, kept his cool, bend­ing a pre­cise strike into the far cor­ner with his sup­pos­edly weaker right foot.

“It had 0-0 writ­ten all over it,” said de­flated care­taker Reds boss Paul Wil­liams. “One in­ci­dent changed the game but, over­all, I was very pleased with how we per­formed.

“We know our short­com­ings.We know we need to be scor­ing more. But from the back four to the front three, in terms of clos­ing peo­ple down and be­ing brave with the foot­ball, I couldn’t ask for any more.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed with the re­sult. But the pos­i­tives are that we’ve got play­ers com­ing back. Britt As­som­ba­longa trav­elled with us. And if we get that level of per­for­mance ev­ery week we’ll be fine.”

LEAP­ING FOR JOY: Mar­cus Ols­son cel­e­brates his all-im­por­tant goal

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

MAGIC MO­MENT: Mar­cus Ols­son scores Derby County’s win­ner

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