Rooney’s old guard stand firm to deny Albion
WAYNE ROONEY rarely had to grind out goalless draws during the peak of his career, yet Derby’s gritty display at Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion will have been as satisfying as some of his finest moments as a player. Led by veteran centre-backs Curtis Davies and Phil Jagielka, and with goalkeeper Kelle Roos outstanding, the Rams resisted everything Albion threw at them as Valerien Ismael’s side drew at home for the second time in four days after being held 1-1 by Millwall on Saturday. Derby spent the summer under a transfer embargo and have the threat of a 12-point deduction hanging over them for alleged breaches of financial regulations. A tough season lies ahead but Rooney has created a strong spirit. ‘It’s a point gained,’ said England’s record goalscorer. ‘West Brom have started well. Their style isn’t pretty but it’s effective, and we dealt well with what they did. I’m proud of the players.’ Opposite number Ismael complained that Derby, who did not register a shot on target, had made no attempt to win the game. He said: ‘The opponents come here and don’t want to play football against us. They have one aim — to fight for the point. They didn’t take any risks so we need to adapt. For sure it’s frustrating but the season is long.’ West Brom this season are similar to the Wimbledon sides of the 1980s and 1990s, or Stoke’s teams under Tony Pulis, and they put Derby under constant aerial pressure here. Rooney chose to match Albion’s 3-4-3 with former Baggies defender Davies at the heart of the back trio. The 36-year-old denied
Albion a ninth-minute opener when he cleared off the line from Semi Ajayi after Derby fell asleep at a corner. Davies and Jagielka, 39, drew on all their experience in the opening 45 minutes. Ismael sent on Matt Phillips and Jordan Hugill to give greater physical presence. West Brom should have taken the lead in the 58th minute when Roos saved from Grady Diangana and Darnell Furlong somehow lifted over an unguarded net. Then it was Phillips’ turn to go close with a firm strike that Davies and Lee Buchanan blocked. Roos saved his best stop for injury time when he parried a powerful Furlong header.