Derby County 5 – 1 Fulham

Both sides entered this fixture with a greater need for 3 points than most sides at this early stage of the season. Derby, so heavily fancied for promotion at the beginning of the campaign, had made difficult work of beating Rotherham on the opening day of the season, then laboured to a draw away at Sheffield Wednesday before being beaten 3-2 by Charlton at The Valley in midweek. Fulham came into the season with expectations equally as high as The Rams, and had struggled even more spectacularly. No points in 3 attempts had left Fulham fans questioning the current regime.

The Rams started the game brightly. Jamie Ward and Cyrus Christie presented problems down Fulham’s left side while Johnny Russell looked to run with the ball at any given opportunity on the opposite flank. While Joronen was never really tested in the Fulham goal early on, Russell did hamme a difficult volley over the bar. It was the Scotsman’s industrious play that eventually lead to Derby’s first goal as he drifted a delicate ball into the box for Jamie Ward to side-foot home on the volley. Derby went into half time deserving leaders.

Fulham responded well and started the second half in control and using the ball intelligently. A Ross McCormack free kick at 54 minutes bounced off the wall, was played into the box and the Derby defence hesitated, allowing Scott Parker to drill a shot in off the post. The Fulham fans were in raptures, but the Derby fans responded in kind, and quickly spurred the Rams forward again. Jeff Hendrick drilled a ball across the Fulham area, Chris Martin rushed in to meet it at the back post but slipped as he arrived and cannoned over the bar from 2 yards out. Fulham didn’t heed the warning and Derby began using their possession against them, countering rapidly and repeatedly. Within 2 minutes of Martin’s miss, the Rams had the lead via a combination of Craig Bryson’s finishing and Joronen’s poor goalkeeping. 2 minutes later and Derby had another. Martin, atoning for his earlier miss, cut inside the Fulham defence expertly and drilled home to make it 3-1.

Derby introduced Simon Dawkins and Will Hughes with 10 minutes to go, and the pair made a devastating impact. Fulham’s young defence seemed to capitulate, and on 87 minutes Hughes, who needs no invite to thread a through ball, found Simon Dawkins in acres of space on the edge of the Fulham box. Dawkins drilled a shot on to the post which Martin tapped home into an open net. 2 minutes later Hughes found Dawkins with a nearly identical ball in equal amounts of space. This time Dawkins was more assured, slotting the ball home from a difficult angle and ending the scoring as well as Fulham’s misery.

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Derby County

Lee Grant Saw plenty of the ball via pass backs and distributed well. Showed solid command of his area. 7.0
Cyrus Christie A constant threat combining with Jamie Ward on the right flank. Did his defensive duties solidly. 8.0
Richard Keogh Solid and mistake free throughout. Seemed more composed than in recent weeks. 7.0
Jake Buxton Another commanding performance at the back. Showed good touch and played the ball out of defence expertly. 7.5
Craig Forsyth Didn’t get forward as effectively as usual, possibly to compensate for Christie’s frequent forays on the opposite wing 6.5
John Eustace Provided the discipline and strength in front of the back four that Derby have lacked all season. Started several promising attacks too. 7.5
Jeff Hendrick A solid box to box performance. Found space well and involved himself in most of Derby’s attacks. 7.0
Craig Bryson A quiet first half, but when Derby switched to more counter attacking tactics he came into the game, bursting forward several times and getting a well-earned first goal of the season. 7.5
Jamie Ward A non-stop performance. Chased every ball, hassled every defender, combined well with Cyrus Christie and got on the scoresheet in the process. 8.5
Johnny Russell The spear head of Derby’s attack in the first half. Grabbed two superb assists and constantly threatened the Fulham back four. 8.5
Chris Martin A vintage Martin performance. After being almost non-existent in the first half and missing an absolute sitter, he showed real composure and skill for his first goal and a great poacher’s instinct for the second. 8.0

Substitutions

Will Hughes A devastating cameo, Hughes ran at the Fulham back four and split them apart twice to set up two goals. 8.0
Simon Dawkins Found space repeatedly in 10 minutes and came up with the best finish of the match for the 5th goal. 7.0
Leon Best Wasn’t on long enough to make an impact 6.0

Fulham

Jesse Joronen A painful performance. Conceded 5, should probably have saved Bryson’s goal and his distribution was poor, sending at least 3 balls over the touchline and slipping over twice. 2.0
Tim Hoogland Struggled to contain Johnny Russell throughout although he did put in several tough challenges 5.0
Nikolay Bodurov Strong in the air defensively, but seemed to lose his legs as the game went on allowing Martin to get into the match 5.0
Cameron Burgess The youngster looked out of his depth throughout and, along with the rest of the back four, crumbled in the second half. Caught out of position several times. 4.0
Sean Kavanagh Another struggling youngster. Christie and Ward isolated him repeatedly and he seemed unable to cover either of them. 3.0
Scott Parker Advanced the play well and ensured Fulham dominated possession. Scored a very well taken goal. 7.0
Patrick Roberts A bright spark for Fulham. Unafraid to run at Derby’s young full backs and looked dynamic on the ball. 6.5
Ryan Williams Fulham’s best attacking player. Looked dangerous throughout and rarely wasted possession. 7.0
Kostas Stafylidis Quiet and off the pace throughout. Looked like he needs more time to gel into the team. 5.5
Cauley Woodrow Never threatened as much as Fulham would have wanted him to. Looked isolated. 6.0
Ross McCormack Looked off the pace and rarely had a sniff of goal. Came closest with a 45 yard punt, which says it all. 4.5

Substitutions

Alexander Kacaniklic Had little affect on the game. 5.0
Kay Voser Looked utterly lost from the moment he came on. 2.0
Thomas Eisfeld Spent most of his time chasing shadows. Part of a trio of substitutes who seemed to totally unbalance Fulham’s team. 4.0

 

Man of the Match

DEac20140703B-029_C.JPG Picture: Alex Cantrill-Jones Matlock Town vs Derby County at the Autoworld arena 03/07/14 Jamie Ward looks to attack.

Jamie Ward Tirelessly and expertly probed through Fulham’s defence repeatedly. Played several cutting, offensive passes and regularly beat his man out wide. Capped it all off with a well taken goal. 8.5

 

 


About Author

Luke is a Derby County fan currently working as a Team Leader for a health care company. He is a freelance football and film writer and fills the headless chicken role for his 5-a-side team.