McClaren starts to feel the love as Derby fight­back stuns Albion

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - SPORT - By John Percy

Steve McClaren’s sur­prise re­turn to Derby County po­larised opin­ion, but 6,000 trav­el­ling sup­port­ers asked him for a wave here.

McClaren has now added an FA Cup up­set to the grow­ing feel­good fac­tor at Derby, with second-half goals from Dar­ren Bent and Tom Ince pro­duc­ing a dra­matic turn­around at the Haw- thorns.

Ince’s bril­liant free-kick se­cured a de­served vic­tory for the Cham­pi­onship pro­mo­tion chasers, pun­ish­ing West Brom for their profli­gacy, to en­sure that McClaren now has 10 wins and only two de­feats from 15 games.

It was only three months ago that his reap­point­ment split sup­port­ers down the mid­dle, with many still fu­ri­ous over his flir­ta­tion with New­cas­tle be­fore his even­tual dis­missal in May 2015. But this stir­ring af­ter­noon will have fur­ther vin­di­cated chair­man Mel Mor­ris’s gam­ble to bring back the for­mer Eng­land man­ager, af­ter the de­par­ture of Nigel Pear­son.

“This was a ter­rific per­for­mance and to come here you’ve got to per­form and fight,” McClaren said. “The result was a bonus and we were heroic in the fi­nal 20 min­utes. Tom is ca­pa­ble of do­ing that and he showed his Premier League qual­ity to­day. He’s got to keep it go­ing be­cause he’s got great abil­ity.”

McClaren can­not have seen this com­ing af­ter a first half in which Derby were sub­jected to con­stant pres­sure, with Matt Phillips giv­ing West Brom a 35th-minute lead with a com­posed fin­ish.

Yet out of nowhere Derby were level six min­utes into the second half, with Bent ar­row­ing a fierce shot past Boaz My­hill from out­side the area.

And Ince turned the mo­men­tum of the game dra­mat­i­cally in the 54th minute, bend­ing in a sub­lime free-kick which left My­hill rooted to his line as it drifted into the bot­tom cor­ner.

This was now an ab­sorb­ing cup tie, with Craig Daw­son head­ing a cor­ner against the post and My­hill sav­ing bril­liantly from Ince.

Tony Pulis in­tro­duced Hal Rob­sonKanu for the fi­nal 22 min­utes but Derby were still threat­en­ing, My­hill pro­duc­ing an­other cru­cial save to deny Bent on the turn.

Albion sub­sti­tute Nacer Chadli tested Scott Carson twice as time ebbed away yet Derby held firm to leave Pulis stunned.

“We bat­tered them at times, we have got 60 crosses in and 30 shots,” he said. “All the stats showed we have had a right go, but in cup foot­ball you need the breaks.”

Top qual­ity: Match-win­ner Tom Ince salutes the fans af­ter Derby’s stun­ning vic­tory

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