A clash of the titans, the two heavyweights of the division meeting at our home patch. Or at least that how the build up to the match went.
After two mins it wasn’t looking great as the home crowd looked on in dismay. Arregi had just given up his first goal in roughly nine games. Luton’s sole striker cut open our defenses early, after their midfielder played the perfect through ball to run on to and score.
Our midfield held together well, and wingers Goretich and Carlson ran themselves to a standstill completing for the ball, but we weren’t making possession count, as we couldn’t break through at set piece time, nor could the strikers have been any less accurate with their shooting, as Barton and Binks both blew numerous chances.
Key defender Simm received a pass from hard man Navarro, and centred it to Townsend, who played a superb pass to Barton, who tapped into…the post, and it deflected in. Goal Derby; and the game was square at 1-1 after 34 minutes. Cynics amongst the Luton crowd may say it looked offside. I say, fair reward for the hard yards Barton has put in this season.
Simm picked up a knock and was replaced by Hird, in possibly his last game for Derby. Before the break, again both Barton and Binks were both guilty of not finishing well when they had ample opportunity.
At half time, the riot act was dished out to the team and they were reminded that Luton had come to our house, and that we were disappointing thus far. I resisted the urge to make any more changes to the side, and that I would give them quarter of an hour to prove I shouldn’t substitute them.
The first fifteen mins of the second half were almost as abysmal as the first. Goretich has plenty of shots on goal, and it seemed as if my strikers had stage fright. Goretich was then injured and was replaced by Everton loanee Bandini at the sixty min mark.
He’d only been on the park for a few plays and he had positioned himself in front of goal to receive a cross from Nieminen, to finally put Derby ahead for the first time in the match. If 2-1 was comfortable, 3-1 was better, as Barton tackled Luton’s Biggs to claim possession, passed the ball to Baldini for an easy run in and one on one with the goalie. 3-1, advantage and momentum with Derby.
While we were content to close the game out, Luton did have other ideas. From a set piece, striker Donaldson ran clear at goalkeeper Arregi. Arregi missed, Donaldson didn’t and with fifteen minutes, Luton was back with a shot.
Enough was enough. Holmes was reassigned an anchor man, pulling back from his midfield duties, Barton kept taking shots, and missing, and I was particularly impressed with our central midfield pairing of Townsend and Holmes, and of the unsung defensive line. While Barton was impressive with his running and positioning, his ability to convert the half chances and to take the game away from the opposition is lacking at the moment.
Still, a 3-2 win against the top placed team is not to be sneezed at, and it ensures that we take three points from the fixture, cut the lead to four points, and break their momentum.
Injuries to Simm and Goreich also take some of the gloss off, but a win is a win is a win.
1 April 21
The month of March proved to be something of a watershed moment, we made a profit for the first time in my tenure - 235K. It shows that the changes made and the direction that I am taking the club are promising. With time, it is my hope that the club will flourish.
Injuries suffered by Simm (bruised rib) and Goretich (dead leg) were not severe, and they should both be available for selection in the next game about Ipswich, although they will not start.
Pochet has also recovered from his injury, and will most likely start in place of Simm.
Derby own Pride Park, a 33K odd seater, and enjoy reasonable home crowd support of 21K per home match.
The Ipswich game has been declared a Fan Day, and the ticket sales are only expected to be 23K.
Guess that is what happens when you get knocked out of both of your cup runs early, and are still not yet meeting the media's expectations for the team....and enjoy only average support from your Board.
Although, it could also be because it was a Fan Day for Ipswich, and Derby are the away team.
5 March 21
With great crowd support of 23,530, the scene was set for fifth place Ipswich to perform in front of their home fans.
The early signs were not great however, as Navarro passed from deep to Goretich , who ran down the sideline and crossed for Barton who was positioned well, in front of goal, to tuck it away and Derby go 1-0 up after 4 mins.
David McCarthy equalised for Ispwich from a well taken corner, before Barton again scored after work in the midfield found its way to the sweet spot on his left boot via the vastly improving right winger Goretich.
In to the sheds 2-1 up, I spoken words of encouragement and sent them back out on the paddock without changing the lineup.
Disaster struck for Ipswich soon after, and Barton missed a hat trick opportunity, aiming for a quick tap in, the ball deflected through defender Lovell, and goal is chalked up as “own goal”. Derby 3-1 up, and while momentum is with us, we are not keeping possession.
Carlson, the left winger broke free after an hour, found room to move and eventually was on the receiving end of a Barton cross. 4-1 up and looking good value for the win, much to the disgust of the crowd one would imagine.
Towards the end of the match, and after some fantastic buildup by our midfielders Townsend and Dios, and busy defender Benchenaa, Lovell was fouled on Barton inside the box. Barton stepped up to score his hattrick and net his fortieth goal of the season. End result was a 5-1 flogging, but it was hard work for the team.
Luton and Derby have secured place off spots for League One.
We are still second on the ladder, 4 points adrift of Luton.
Memo Vazquez, manager at Newcastle, has spoken publicly about his admiration of Jimmy Barton's talent.
Barton's "value" has also increased to a cool 1M.
There is still hope.
10 Apr 21
Second placed Derby to face 20th placed Forest Green, was always going to be an ill tempered affair. Forest Green needed points to take them out of the drop zone, and we needed points to maintain our charge towards the Championship, remembering the expectation at the start of the season was that we would win. I’m undecided about what exactly the Board expects of me, but their support for me is hardly cause for overwhelming optimism, despite remaining unbeaten.
I was slightly concerned on two fronts before the game, starting striker Binks form of late has been scratchy and he has struggled to find the net, so young Italian Tummiolo takes his slot and Binks will play from the bench.
Defender Doherty had not seen much game time since his suspension so I was also keen to give him a run, and this situation played into my hands to some extent, club struggling against relegation to League Two, due to play a 3-4-3 formation, with three strikers to take maximum advantage of scoring opportunities.
Catch twenty two for me, do I let Doherty play, knowing it will be a hotly contested affair, and risk the fact that he may be the over the top aggressive player who gets sent from the field? Or do I let him prove to me that he can handle himself, and play sensibly whilst not taking a step backwards or running foul of the ref. I have decided to chance it.
At any rate, if there are more discipline problems with the Irish tyke means he’ll be under the hammer in the next window.
Further fat to the fire, my predecessor lost 2-1 to Forest Green in November 2020.
10 Apr 21
I must say that Forest Green had the better of us in the first ten minutes, with multiple scoring opportunities being wasted. But they were creating chances, which was a concern for me.
Eleven mins in, we seized our opportunity as Doherty (repaying my faith perhaps) headed a poor clearance from the opposing keeping up-field, for Barton to run onto. Mistake number two from the goalie was rushing out, as Barton wrong footed him to have nothing but space between him and the net to go one up.
Our second goal came from a well worked move on the left flank, with defender Benchenaa controlling the ball, passing in infield to Carlson, who presented the ball to Tummiolo, who was left with a simple tap in.
Townsend made it three when he collected a rebound chance that a Barton cross to Carlson had been blocked. And when Carlson did eventually score from a Goretich pass, it may have appeared that it was all too easy.
Heading to the sheds 4-0 up, our energy levels were being sapped. Substituting Tuttiolo (who was suffering the results of limited game time) with Binks, we headed out.
The second half was a tough encounter; Forrest Green started well and had again, the best of the opening ten minutes. Arregi, who had made some appalling decisions in the past few games, again let in a soft goal, where he made a rash decision to rush out, and an easy goal was scored against us.
Soon after, Tony Holmes, bombed a ball from a set piece just outside the penalty box, for Benchenaa to pop up and claim his first ever goal – albeit an in off the post effort.
The aggression and desire of both clubs to achieve their goals – Forest Green were desperate to get three points to help them out of the zone, and we were equally eager to stay in touch with Luton at the other end of the table, was becoming increasing apparent. There was stoppage time for injuries and huge numbers of fouls committed on both sides. Forest Green defender, Dick, was sent from the field for blocking a goal scoring run of Barton, and another player was yellowed for the same offense.
Binks completed scoring proceedings by smashing a Goretich cross into the back of the net.
I was pleased to get off the park with the three points under my belt, and was equally proud of the fact that none of my players were carded. 6-1 win to us, but it was a bone crushing encounter and I’ll need to assess the condition of my players before letting them play the next game.
Luton's lead has been sliced now to a solitary point after they tasted a 1-0 away defeat against MK Dons.
Our goal scoring at corners, compared to others in the league is poor. I will re-assess how we take the set pieces and make improvements. By way of contrast, the most prolific team Luton have scored 14 times, whereas we are only muddling along in the middle, scoring 6.
Unbelievable! My overpaid utility Stevenson had five contracts on the table, and he goes and rejects four of them out of hand and then wants us to again pay 2.2K to supplement a lower paid contract elsewhere. I am starting to get really annoyed with his behaviour. How have other members dealt with issues like this? Do you just take the hit and smile, or do you take the bigger hit and buy his contract out?
17 Apr 21
Crystal Palace's 3rd place was at risk if they were to lose at home to Derby, and what has been readily apparent is that Luton appears to be the other club in League One which has the ability to play at a higher level.
Dropping Holmes back to his more familiar anchor man role on the advice of my scout, and slotting Simm back into the defensive line at the expense of the resident Irish hothead Doherty, Palace were on the ropes after ten minutes and the scorecard reading 2-0, after a floating aerial shot from Navarro found Carlson in front of goal, followed soon after by a banana shot from striker Tummiolo after a wonderful build up from Carlson and Townsend.
When Barton was upended in the penalty box and Holmes slotted a penalty to make it 3-0, the home crowd fell silent and the first half massacre was completed when Barton ran onto a pass from Goretich to make it 4-0.
I encouraged the players to maintain their intensity after the break, but substituted both Tummiolo (with Binks) and Narravo (with Nieminen). The opposing coach must have also had a stern word with his players in the shed, because they were far more committed in the second spell, and while Barton and Binks had opportunities they didn’t take, the control exhibited by Palace was impressive. They kept possession and made us almost play catch up, to the extent that you couldn’t help wondering what may have happened if they played like this from the first whistle.
Against the run of play though, Holmes and Townsend combined to put Barton into space and clear to score. Ended being a 5-0 win to us, but while it may have appeared a rout on paper, it was far from that, and it could have easily being a different story had we not scored those early goals before the opposition had settled.
Luton and Derby have secured promotion to the Championship next year, we are still trailing by a point with three games to go, but it does mean that next years future is certain, and that we will be playing at the higher level.
Barton has set a League One record for goals in a season (currently 37 in league matches, 43 all up). He is now "worth" 1.1M and Newcastle are still making comments in the media...make an offer already!
24 April 21
Home game against mid table Portsmouth should have been an easy three points according to the media. It was far from that!! Derby worked hard, and we took enough of the opportunities handed to us to run out comfortable winners.
Simm was rested and Doherty came back into the starting lineup, and Binks also came back for Tuttiolo. The first twenty-five minutes were enough to make impartial spectators impressed with the number of opportunities that either side created, but the cutting edge was lacking to convert them to goals.
Doherty’s first ever goal came after a solid Holmes corner found him and he was able to head the ball past the keeper. 1-0, advantage Derby. It took us another 20 minutes of hard slog before we broke through and realistically held an unassailable lead. From well inside our own half, a supposed defensive position was turned to our advantage. The ball flew from Benchenaa to halfway and Binks was able to set Barton one on one with the keeper. 2-0.
During ref’s time, and hot on attack in Portsmouth goal, Holmes chipped the ball to Carson, who ran and turned it back infield, where Goretich and Binks were anticipating the move, the shot fell to Binks and at half time we were ahead 3-0.
Soon after the break, Goretich made the defense look amateurish as he sliced through with ease, and passed back inside for Carson to score.
Barton settled the game when Doherty lifted the ball down to Carson, and when the pass cut back in field, Barton was left with the simplest of “walk the ball to the back of the net”.
Portsmouth came to play, and it wasn’t all one way traffic, but they did have problems - all three substitutions were made due to injuries. That said, I was impressed with all the players, this game represents the most complete game of football that I have seen them play. End result was 5-0 win.
Luton beat Crewe 2-1 to remain top. Two more games to decide the Champion!!! Luton finish their season with back to back games (against Stockport and Ipswich)at home, and we are away to Rotterham and home to Charlton.
While my heart says Derby can do it, my mind says Luton, should, on form, put both those mid table teams away comfortably. Meanwhile, we play Charlton, who are placed third.
Jimmy Barton has set a record for the number of league goals for Derby in a season with 39. Previous holder was Jack Bowers who scored 37 in 1931!
Wayne Doherty has also set a record for the youngest League One goalscorer at 15 years and 338 days. Previous was Keith Watson who was aged 16 years and 160 days.
Doherty is also now the youngest Derby goalscorer.
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