The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Colin Hen­rys

GARY Rowett hailed his sub­sti­tutes and squad play­ers af­ter Johnny Rus­sell stepped off the bench to gift Derby vic­tory at home to Bur­ton Al­bion.

Rus­sell pounced on Matty Palmer’s mis­take late on to en­sure the Rams bounced back from their mid­week de­feat to Ip­swich by claim­ing all three points.

It meant a first ever Derby win in this fix­ture – and first goal – but Rowett ad­mit­ted it could have been more com­fort­able had they bro­ken Bur­ton down ear­lier.

“It was prob­a­bly the first mis­take that Bur­ton made – they just seemed to get a toe to every­thing be­fore that – but it was very op­por­tunis­tic by Johnny and that’s what you want your sub­sti­tutes to do,” he said.

“I’ve said it be­fore, and I’ll say it again – the play­ers that have been out of the side have been bril­liant.

“It’s a bit cheesy to say, but all the play­ers are in it to­gether and you can see that day-to-day. They’re all work­ing in­cred­i­bly hard. I’ve got no com­plaints with any of the play­ers.

“We needed to win, and I think if we’d have got an early goal it would have been a very dif­fer­ent game.”

Clear-cut chances were rare through­out the game, but Chris Martin cut in­side onto his right foot in the 19th minute and un­leashed a pow­er­ful, curl­ing strike which Stephen By­wa­ter tipped over.

By­wa­ter saved Bur­ton with his re­flexes again on the stroke of half­time, this time spar­ing Ben Turner’s blushes af­ter he had steered Tom Lawrence’s fizzing cross to­wards his own goal.

Derby con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate the at­tack­ing play af­ter the break, and An­dreas Weimann should have done bet­ter when, un­marked in the area, he shot tamely at By­wa­ter af­ter Lawrence’s through ball.

Bur­ton had chances too, and were al­most in front from a rare Palmer cor­ner on 62 min­utes when Turner headed goal­wards but Weimann cleared off the line.

At the other end, Martin twice saw shots blocked by de­fend­ers in the 65th minute, first from his 25yard free-kick and again from the re­bound.

Rus­sell fi­nally broke the dead­lock on 81 min­utes though, feed­ing Martin and then, when the striker’s shot was saved, ham­mer­ing in the re­bound when Palmer failed to clear.

Bur­ton al­most snatched a point in the 90th minute but Lukas Akins’ scis­sor-kick dropped just wide when Luke Mur­phy’s free-kick was headed to the edge of the area.

There was still time for Sam Win­nall to spurn a great chance to add a sec­ond, scuff­ing his shot wide when Martin picked him out in space in the mid­dle, but Derby held on to win.

It was a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive week in which Bur­ton boss Nigel Clough was left to rue a late de­feat, and the former Derby man­ager ad­mit­ted: “It sums up our sea­son so far. We’ve played well, didn’t make enough of our sit­u­a­tions in the penalty area and we gave a goal away.

“We were ac­tu­ally pleased with how we played. You can’t leg­is­late for a mis­take in the 81st minute.

“It was just a very poor de­ci­sion, but that’s the learn­ing process for young play­ers – they have to make mis­takes, and they have to learn. If you don’t put them out there, they don’t learn.

“It’s get­ting harder to take the pos­i­tives, but the nice thing is we don’t look like a team who are bot­tom of the league.”


RUS­SELL GROUP: Derby play­ers con­grat­u­late Johnny Rus­sell af­ter he scores the win­ner, inset

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