RAMS ARE BACK IN OLD ROUTINE
McClaren delight at first win in seven
STEVE MCCLAREN is a happy man again after his Derby side got back to winning ways.
McClaren’s Rams kept up their unlikely hunt for a Championship play-off place after a first win in seven.
Barnsley loanee Matty James headed the visitors in front before goals from Tom Ince and David Nugent – his first for the club – ensured the three points for the Rams.
But after Sheffield Wednesday’s walloping of Norwich the gap between County and the sixth-placed Owls remains at ten points.
Rams chief McClaren said: “I hate losing and I’ve been angry for the last couple of weeks. But it was a much-needed win and we did what we had to do to find a way to win.
“We started off nervous, which is expected after losing the last two. Coming from behind showed fantastic character from the players.
“It was never going to be fluid, but as the game went on we proved to be a threat.
“We got the ball to our front three much quicker in the second half.
“The players reacted after losing two and it was especially important to react quick to the goal we conceded.”
The lively Adam Armstrong fashioned a couple of early chances for Barnsley, but he failed to find a way past Scott Carson on a number of occasions.
Derby then went on the front foot and Johnny Russell and Julien De Sart both tried their luck but failed to beat keeper Adam Davies.
After such a sloppy first 45 minutes, the game suddenly kicked into life after the restart and it was Barnsley who took the lead – and in thoroughly simplistic fashion.
Marc Roberts launched a throw into the box and the unmarked James nodded past Carson with ease.
It was James’s first goal in over three years, since he notched for parent club Leicester City in February 2014.
But there was hardly any time to celebrate as County equalised barely a minute later when Ince slotted past Davies after a cross into the box fell kindly into his path.
Ince then saw a free-kick tipped over the bar by the increasingly busy Davies before the keeper tipped another Ince shot onto a post.
Derby then propelled themselves into the lead on 76 minutes when Nugent bundled home via a deflection off Angus MacDonald.
County pushed for a third but Barnsley substitute Ryan Kent almost stole a point, only for his late volley to be kept out by Carson as McClaren’s men held out for the victory.
Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom said: “I’m probably more dejected than I should be. The fact we’ve lost the game and could have ended up with something shows how far we have come.
“The timing of their first goal was really bad. But we had a go and as I say we could well have got something out of this.
“I’m a bit thrown by this result, to be honest.
“I may be being a bit harsh on the players so I’ll have to watch it back and assess and look at what we could have done better.
“We’re always wanting to improve.”
HAPPY DAY: Celebrations after David Nugent scores the winning goal