Jerome header gives Derby slen­der ad­van­tage

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SPORTS - NICK MILLER at the iPro Sta­dium

The side who fin­ished sixth in the Cham­pi­onship haven’t won pro­mo­tion through the play­offs since Black­pool man­aged it in 2010. But Derby County took a big step to­wards the fi­nal with a 1-0 win over Ful­ham in the first leg of their semi.

It was a gran­ite-solid per­for­mance from Derby, de­fend­ing Cameron Jerome’s first-half header as if the very fu­ture of the club de­pended on it. Ful­ham tried again and again to break their re­solve, to no avail.

Both teams tried to start on the front foot, Ful­ham threat­en­ing down ei­ther flank while Matej Vy­dra and Tom Lawrence buzzed around Jerome up front for Derby.

Ful­ham’s ini­tial at­tacks were a lit­tle more co­he­sive, shift­ing the ball smartly through the play­maker Tom Cair­ney, try­ing to sur­gi­cally pick holes in the Derby back­line. They did not have much joy, a cou­ple of fairly weak ef­forts the best they could man­age. Derby showed lit­tle of the same in­tri­cacy, and yet, their more sim­ple ap­proach was bril­liantly re­warded in the 34th minute.

Pinged over

Tom Hud­dle­stone spread the ball to Craig Forsyth, ven­tur­ing for­wards from his po­si­tion in the back three, pinged over a su­perb cross from deep on the left, right onto the head of Jerome who pow­ered his ef­fort into the net. Derby’s per­for­mance was su­perb in its dis­ci­pline, if noth­ing else. They de­fended in rigid shape, al­low­ing Ful­ham to pass as much as they liked un­til they got within range of goal, and then any threat was smoth­ered.

The Ful­ham of the first half looked more like the side of the past few weeks, when they’ve seemed tired and a lit­tle tense: it was be­gin­ning to look like that ex­tra­or­di­nary run, 23 games un­beaten that nearly won them au­to­matic pro­mo­tion, had both come a tiny bit too early and had sapped their en­ergy. But af­ter the break their team showed much more pur­pose: Kevin McDon­ald belted a shot against the bar, then Floyd Ayite volleyed over from a ter­rific long pass by Matt Targett. If this of­ten thrilling Ful­ham side don’t go up this sea­son, it will be a shame, but in truth in this game they de­served no more. – Guardian DERBY COUNTY: Car­son, Keogh, Davies, Forsy th, Wis­dom, Hud­dle stone, John­son, Wei mann( Han­son 90), V yd ra( Any a 68), Lawrence, Jerome( Nugent 68). Subs Not Used: Palmer, P ear ce,Roos,L ed ley. Booked: Weimann,John­son. F UL HAM: Betti nelli, Fred­er­icks, Odoi, Re am, T ar gett,C air ney,Mc Don­ald, Jo hansen (Nor wood 88), Ayi te( Piaz on 76), Mi tro vic, Ryan S es seg­non(Ke ba no 76). Subs Not Used: Christie, K alas, But­ton, Kama ra. Booked: Jo­hansen. Ref­eree: Roger East( Wilts hire ).

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