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The Weston Report: Derby Needed Churchill Not Mr. Cliché
Monday, 16th May 2016 06:15 by Ryan Weston

As I type, there is certainly a feeling of déjà vu. Anger. Disappointment. Dejection. What might have been… again.

Dreadful. Abject. Appalling. Insert adjective here. Our beloved Rams turned back the clock to produce the kind of performance that saw us fall like a stone last season at the worst possible time.

It all started well enough. The Rams were treated to a rousing welcome, which would have made the hairs on even the most pessimistic fans’ neck stand up.

In between the streamer, flags and scarves, Bradley Johnson was restored, with Hughes deployed in the holding role. Few eyebrows were raised after Bradley tamed the Tigers in his last outing.

With Hull’s regular goalkeeper McGregor ruled out, confidence was buoyed. But something was missing. Perhaps it was the healthy sections of empty seats. Perhaps it was George Thorne. Perhaps it was a proper manager.

That said, the cagey opening to the game came as little surprise. What did however was our tactic of tossing a long diagonal ball forwards in the general direction of someone in White. The same tactics that saw MK Dons do a job on us. Like getting a really important interview for your dream job and rocking up in shorts.

The closest to goalmouth incident in the early going came from two slips in possession from the visitors but neither Bryson nor Johnson could benefit. It was soon obvious that these Tigers were far more predatory than the house cats that turned up at the iPro last month.

Martin then sliced over after good work down the left hand side but the attacking start that many had called for hadn’t materialised. Instead, Hull had a foothold, with Snodgrass’s effort well blocked by Bryson in the box.

More long balls. More easy defending. Too much room in the midfield.

On the half hour, a Snodgrass free-kick was headed narrowly wide by Hernandez. No matter, as Hull’s £10m man soon sent the away section into raptures. A long ball was well won by Olsson, only for Johnson to sell Shackell short. Instead of taking Livermore down, Jason did the hokey-COKEY, putting his legs in and then out. The ball was passed inside to Hernandez and with one swing of the left boot, the corner was found.

Surely this would spark the Rams into action? Well, sadly not. Diame almost doubled the advantage, screwing his shot wide across goal as the Rams chased shadows.

After striking down four Brighton players with injury in a remarkable turn of events on Friday night, the playoff bad luck then hit the Rams... again.

The visitors were once again given the freedom of Pride Park to play, with a flowing move see the ball eventually find Odubajo on the right. The right-back was giving Olsson a torrid time, with the Swede already booked and looking shaky. Standing off, he could have done little as Moses’ strike hit him, then Shackell and nestled into the bottom corner.

Divine intervention? I prefer to call it something else.

Looking at the players, you knew it was going to take something superhuman, even with three-quarters of the tie left. Shackell looked like he had lost a fiver and found a penny. Carson looked ready to give someone a shiner. Ince looked lost.

We needed Churchill in the dressing room at half time. Instead, we had Mr Cliché. I’m not privy to what was said, but I’d imagine, ‘it’s a game of two halves,’ was churned out.

It was time for bravery. For passion. Rolling up sleeves. Instead, we stuck to Plan A, which presumably stands for ‘Abysmal’. Instead, it was Hull who nearly put the tie to bed, with Davies heading just wide.

Frustrations were growing, not helped by being ridiculed by the away support, who claimed, ‘there’s only one team in Yorkshire.’ Yes, you immediately think of the powerhouse that is Hull when thinking of Yorkshire footballing teams…

Said frustrations almost boiled over, as, eventually, Wassall changed it up with Butterfield ready to come on. In a comedy moment, as Bryson went over for a drink, 25,000 wrongly assumed he was the man being replaced. As it was, Johnson got the hook, not that he had done anything of note anyhow.

At least Mr Butterfield doesn’t have, ‘long, aimless diagonal ball’ on his C.V. But we needed more from somewhere, as the Tigers pressed, harried and tackled as one pack. We just weren’t hurting them in behind, with the ball passed backwards, sideways or out of play.

The Tigers’ counter-attacking play however was extremely impressive, with another series of passes seeing Diame test Carson to his left.

But wait! Was that a bird? A plane?

No, it was Nick Blackman!!

His subsequent arrival in place of Russell led more than one person in my vicinity to lose it. My proclamation that now would be a great time to win us over was met by silence. Which was deafening.

Finally, we tested Jakupovic’s handling, or lack of it, as he spilled a Christie cross. Sadly, Ince, Butterfield and eventually Bryson dallied, as the latter slashed wide.

With 80 minutes on the clock, we registered our first strike on target, as Butterfield’s low daisy-cutter was easily smothered. An effort that was cheered akin to that of a goal or even a shot the last time we dined at English football’s top table. If we didn’t laugh, we’d have cried.

Five to play and we eventually saw Darren Bent. Like London buses, our first effort on target was followed by another, as Ince tricked his way through, struck tamely left-footed but still saw the goalkeeper make a meal of it to his left. If only we had tested him sooner…

As time ticked down, Elmohamody found space on the right and attempted to round Carson. That he sort of did, but could only screw into the side netting. Not that you would have noticed by Wassall’s complexion, his statue impression irking me intensely!

Just one goal would change the complexion of the tie and for a fleeting second, I thought we had it. A long throw was flicked on by Bent and Jakupovic again looked uncertain, doing his best bird impression, flapping and colliding with Ince as the ball stayed out.

We did manage to force a corner. What followed was an utter shambles and probably has condemned us to another season visiting Rotherham.

Ince’s corner summed up his day-rubbish, hitting the first man. The ball broke towards Olsson, who, had he not already have been booked, would have probably taken one for the team. Instead, he lost out and saw the ball worked left and over half way.

A pass later and Robertson, Hull’s LEFT-BACK, was in and finished brilliantly. Queue Steve Bruce celebrating like he’s heard Jacamo have a sale on.

Full-time. Boo’s. Catcalls. Anger.

You can take losing if you have given it your all, if you are beaten showing pride, determination and passion. I’m not sure anyone in white can claim they had shown any of these attributes.

As bad as we were, credit to Hull, who were excellent on the day. Excellent and probably as perplexed as everyone else.

For me, a definite case of our chickens coming home to roost.

Wassall says we need to complete Mission Impossible on Tuesday, this was more like the Rocky Horror Show.

A penny for Mr Clement’s thoughts?

Weston’s Player Rating:

Scott Carson - 6: No chance with any of the goals.

Cyrus Christie – 6: Couple of decent crosses but not normal marauding self.

Richard Keogh – 6: Another not at his best.

Jason Shackell – 6: Desperately unlucky to be credited with an O.G.

Marcus Olsson – 5: Honestly thought he was going to be sent off. Struggled.

Will Hughes – 6: Tried his best but holding doesn’t suit him.

Craig Bryson – 6: Struggled to link up with Martin.

Bradley Johnson – 5: Very poor. Didn’t look fit.

Johnny Russell – 6:Another who gave it his all but it didn’t happen for him.

Tom Ince – 5: Not the time to perform like he did-badly!

Chris Martin – 6:Literally zero service.


Jacob Butterfield – 6:Registered the only shot on target!

Nick Blackman – 6: Never going to save the day!

Darren Bent – 6: Came on too late.

We Said / They Said – Gaffer Reaction:

We said – Darren Wassall:

"It's not the result we wanted and certainly not the result we expected, considering how well we've played at home over the last few weeks. We've got two choices - we can either throw the towel in now, which is not what we're going to do, or we can regroup, show some character and resilience and dust ourselves down and go again on Tuesday.”

"That is what we're going to do because we can't end the season on a performance like that."

They Said - Steve Bruce:

"In big games you want your big players to turn up and I thought today our experience certainly showed. It was a really, really good performance from start to finish - which in a big game is great to see.”

"We know we're capable of that but what we have got in our locker is complacency, and we've got to guard against that on Tuesday.’

Match Highlights & Stats:

Gaffer / Player Interviews:

Darren Wassall was in shock after the match.


Photo: Action Images

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