RAMS ARE BACK IN OLD ROU­TINE

McClaren de­light at first win in seven

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Ricky Charlesworth

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.”

PIC­TURES: ProS­ports/Aaron Lup­ton

HAPPY DAY: Cel­e­bra­tions af­ter David Nu­gent scores the win­ning goal

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