Rowett displays touch of Pride
GARY Rowett clearly feels right at home at Derby County as he won his first match at Pride Park.
In his Derby managerial debut, Rowett could only watch on as rivals Nottingham Forest snatched a 2-2 draw with a 94thminute equaliser before the international break.
But on Friday night there was no late heartache, as Matej Vydra struck with 20 minutes left to lift the Rams to victory in the former Birmingham boss’ first home game in charge since taking over from Steve McClaren.
“I am really pleased,” said Rowett. “I think after the Forest game when we had the points snatched away from us so cruelly late on, for us to build on some of the good bits from that was really important.
“That is why I picked the same team. I deliberated in the week, I wondered whether we might need an extra midfielder in for a little bit more control but I felt from a learning prospective I’d give them the chance to go again.
“First ten minutes we were a bit tentative and not going with enough intensity.
“We had worked a lot on switching play and getting the ball out the other side, and that is when you can step into little pockets of space
“I thought we started to do that really well. We created lots of chances first half – Johnny Russell got into some great positions and he was frustrated with himself at half-time and said he should have scored a hat-trick.
“But the lads stuck at it, the mentality was fantastic and we got the goal we thoroughly deserved.”
QPR arrived at Pride Park in fine fettle, having lost just one of their previous seven games, but the home side dominated the first half, with Russell fizzing a shot wide and failing to head home a Chris Baird cross from the right.
Russell then turned provider and his cross found David Nugent, but the striker’s shot was beaten away by QPR goalkeeper Alex Smithies.
Russell glanced another header wide and he threatened again in the second half, as his low shot was blocked before a flick-on was headed behind perilously close to the goal-line by James Perch.
But just as it looked like Derby would be frustrated, a Tom Ince deflected effort was pushed into the path of Vydra by Smithies and the Czech made no mistake from six yards out for his third goal in four games.
Lightning almost struck twice for Derby and Rowett as QPR nearly equalised in the 88th minute, but Scott Carson superbly tipped Matt Smith’s low shot around the post after the big striker had turned on the edge of the box.
From the corner, substitute Idrissa Sylla was presented with a free header six yards out but his effort came back off a post.
There was one more scare for Derby in added time, as Smith glanced a header wide from Ryan Manning’s cross, but QPR boss Ian Holloway admitted the hosts deserved the three points.
“I thought the best team won on the night, to be honest,” said Holloway.
“I was disappointed with our effort. We started OK but the longer the game went on the better Derby got and the worse we got.
“We didn’t give as good an account as we have been doing and that was largely down to the organisation, the pressing and the closing of Gary’s team.”
WINNER: Derby County’s Matej Vydra scores and celebrates, inset