Quite frankly this was one of the most memorable weeks in memory for teams in the East Midlands. Four of our teams played each other with interesting results coming out of these games. Nottingham Forest travelled to fierce rivals Derby County and Mansfield also entertained Chesterfield at Field Mill in another match that leaves little to be desired. Notts County and Leicester were also in action. The Magpies entertained Carlisle and Leicester travelled to Blackburn hoping to extend their unbeaten league run.
We start with runaway Championship leaders Leicester City. Only Nigel Pearson seems to think that The Foxes lifting the title before the end of the season is not a foregone conclusion. There seems to be no stopping the Leicester juggernaut. A 1-1 draw at Ewood Park meant that it was 17 league games unbeaten. 7th of December was the last time Pearson’s men suffered a league defeat. It is this kind of consistency that had led to them being in the position they currently are. Although the pressure from the chasing pack continues, they cannot catch Leicester if they also keep picking up points and Pearson must surely have this in mind. With 9 games to go all The Foxes have to do is keep up the momentum and the Promise Land of the Premier League is firmly in their grasp.
Notts County continue to remain a team that both frustrates and infuriates their loyal following. Despite picking up victories against teams such as free scoring Coventry and Sheffield United this season, the Magpies continue to be their own worst enemy by losing to teams in and around them in the Sky Bet League 1 table. They went into Saturday’s home match against out-of-form Carlisle bottom of the league but knowing that just a couple of wins could make all the difference. This seemed to galvanise Sean Derry’s men and they were rampant in a 4-1 victory. Despite this result, they remained bottom of the pile but who knows where this could take County? They need to keep up such performances to stand any chance of surviving the dreaded drop.
Mansfield and Chesterfield are teams that were both desperate to achieve maximum points on Saturday lunchtime but for extremely different reasons. The Stags were eager to pull themselves away from the relegation places, a position they never thought they would find themselves after a very strong first half of the season. Chesterfield are flying high in League Two and want to ensure their places in the promotion places. A damp squib of a game ended in stalemate, a result that suits neither team if the truth be told. The evidence would suggest that both sides will achieve these goals this season. Chesterfield, it seems at least, have just enough to get themselves over the line and not have to suffer the lottery of the Play-Offs and Mansfield now seem well equipped to maintain their league status. A few more wins for both teams in the run-in should see it be a very positive season for the League 2 East Midlands contingent.
Without doubt the biggest match in the East Midlands this week and possibly this season came at the iPro Stadium in Derby. Nottingham Forest made the short journey down Brian Clough Way to take on their fiercest rivals in what was billed as one of the most important and significant meeting between the two in decades. Both teams had been struggling in the lead up to the game. Both had been on a scoring drought and it looked as if this match could be a bit of a grind for both teams. What followed was anything but.
Derby went at Forest from the very first whistle. The Rams were simply rampant in the opening stages and took the lead in the 4th minute. Craig Bryson broke from his midfield station to finish cleverly after Moussi handled in the box. This proved to be just the start for Derby. They went on to add another 4 goals to this Bryson effort to claim a famous and astonishing 5-0 victory over their bitter rivals. Forest to be honest were woeful and Derby were simply better in every single aspect of the game. Thorne, Bryson and Hendrick dominated midfield and the forward line of Ward, and subsequently Russell after the former suffered a hamstring injury, Bamford and Martin looked lively and powerful. The defeat led to the sacking of Reds manager Billy Davies. A man already on brink, this crushing reversal against the Rams was obviously enough for the owners to push the button and end Davies’ second reign.
The future is looking bright for Derby. This victory went further to cement their play-off spot, with 2nd place looking slightly out of their reach now after Burnley’s impressive recent form. Forest on the other hand need to find any sort of form and quickly!! Their stint in the play-offs is now over and they need to work hard in order to ensure their season does not simply fizzle out. One thing is for sure it will take some time of this match to exit the memories of either set of fans. Bragging rights certainly belong to the Black and White section of the East Midlands for some time.