With boos ringing around the ground every time Michael Dawson and
Jermaine Jenas touched the ball, the small town attitude of the Derby
County fans might be better suited to the Championship, where they might
enjoy the passion of the East Midlands derby against Nottingham Forest,
as this 3-0 win for Spurs pushes the Rams closer to the drop.
Spurs struggled with a changed side to gain
any pattern to their play and Derby were in with a chance until the team
clicked with O'Hara coming on for the disappointing Boateng and Robbie
Keane being the main beneficiary of the supply that started to flow.
An early surprise was the inclusion of
recent injury victim Darren Bent in place of Dimitar Berbatov. The
summer signing was only returning to training this week, so perhaps his
lack of match fitness and the lack of a decent supply in the first half
explained his subdued performance.
Derby worked hard to stop Tottenham
playing. Losing Darren Moore after 11 minutes might have helped
their cause, as he is not the most mobile of footballers and he might
have been given the run-around had he stayed on. As it was Stubbs
had an uncomfortable afternoon against the Tottenham strikers.
Bent had the first Spurs shot on target,
but Carroll easily held onto it at the second attempt, but a minute
later Robbie Keane made the former Manchester United goalie scrabble the
ball around the post with an effort from the edge of the area. The
corner produced a shot from Huddlestone, but it went wide.
County's first shot came as we neared the
quarter of an hour mark and Cerny was equal to it, but shortly after,
Michael Dawson had to leave the field injured and Younes Kaboul replaced
him in the middle of defence alongside Hud. Kaboul did OK today,
perhaps learning from his previous mistakes. He kept things simple
and took few chances at the back.
Miller worked Cerny with a left footed
shot into the keeper's chest and while the Spurs players were conceding
free-kicks around the box, Derby did not have the quality of delivery
nor on the end of them to cause any real damage. Cerny came for
crosses well and the defence (virtually all the team at some stages)
dealt well in the air with them, as we are a fairly big team now ...
The best chance of the half fell to Giles
Barnes, but when put through on the edge of the box by Pearson, with
only Cerny to beat, he tried to stroke it past the keeper with the
outside of his right boot and pushed the ball wide of the goal as well
as the goalie. It was the Rams' big opportunity. Miller hit
a shot wide five minutes after Barnes set the tone, but at the other
end, Kaboul struck a close range shot that Carroll saved well.
Jenas struck a shot too high when the ball found it's way to him from a
corner, but a series of fouls, including a booking for Leacock,
punctuated the rest of the half.
O'Hara's introduction had two effects.
It gave Spurs the option of someone who could pass the ball accurately
and perceptively. It also gave them the presence of a player who
will snap at the ankles. He did this a little too often and was
lucky to escape without a booking, as he must have been hauled up four
or five times for fouls, which others appeared to get a caution for.
But he moved the ball around, linking
play and kept the Derby players chasing the ball. Chimbonda got
narked when Fagan caught him on the back of the leg and got a booking
for confronting the sub-standard County midfielder. Fagan
did manage to get a shot on target and Radek held it, as it was nothing
more than a regulation save. From that Alan Hutton, who
continually joined in the attack today, found himself bearing down on
goal from the right wing, but it went to his head a bit and instead of
steadying himself, he let fly and the ball went wide.
A free-kick dropped to Huddlestone and
his shot was palmed wide by Carroll, with the resulting corner falling
to Aaron Lennon on the edge of the penalty area, but he could not
control his volley, which went way over the top. A hangover form
the Old Firm thing in Scotland saw Miller hack down Hutton and earn a
booking, with another problem for Derby arriving with Dimitar Berbatov
coming on for Bent.
When the first goal came it was a
controversial one, among the Derby fans at least. Having let in so
many this season, I am not sure why they got so hot under the collar.
Huddlestone's ball from tight to left saw Berbatov jogging back and
leaving the ball for Malbranque. Cutting inside from the left
wing, Steed put in a low shot that would have crept in at the far post,
but Carroll got a hand to it, only diverting it into the path of Robbie
Keane to tap home form inside the six yard box.
Having found it hard to get the first,
the game opened up and had Spurs used the ball properly when inside the
Rams penalty area, the score could have been many more. Berbatov
twice had chances and put one wide, while the other brought a save from
the Derby goalie after Jenas had also made Carroll dive to stop the
When another attack brought another
corner, Lennon put the ball in and although half cleared, Chimbonda
ducked to nod it to Younes Kaboul, standing on the penalty spot and he
took one touch to get it onto his left foot and then drilled it in past
the keeper and a man on the line.
Blocks by Chimbonda and Huddlestone
denied Sterjovski and Miller., before two quick fouls saw substitute
Jones enter the referee's book.
As the game slipped into added time,
Keane broke on the right and tried to play the ball into the heart of
the penalty area, but Alan Stubbs moved his arm tight to his side to
stop the ball getting past him, bringing a whistle and a finger pointing
to the penalty spot from the match official. Given the chance from
12 yards out, Berbatov strolled up and as Carroll went one way, the ball
went the other and Spurs had won 3-0.
The score-line might look harsh from
Derby's point of view, but they are not a Premier League side at the
moment. They are in a limbo where they know they are going down
and while they are trying to do well, they neither have the personnel
nor the confidence to make it that hard for the opposition.
It is a shame, because Paul Jewell
believes in the right way the game should be played. Maybe
relegation will allow him to regroup and form a side capable of coming
back to fight for their place. I hope so, as he is an honourable
man. But his side were dismantled by some good passing and hard
work by Spurs.
Ramos has got the team believing in
themselves and the success they might be able to achieve. There
was a time this game might have been the banana skin we would have
slipped up on, but not now. If they can keep going and get a run
of results, we might not even need that InterToto Cup place !!