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Saturday, 29th April 2017 Kick-off 15:00
The Weston Report: Not Many Rams Will Relax On Their Holidays
Tuesday, 2nd May 2017 06:11 by Ryan Weston
The last home game of an overly eventful season which included; the Pearson debacle, the return of the Mac (again) and Rowett’s homecoming, and that was just in the managerial hot seat!
On the pitch, we saw a diabolical start, a biblical middle and a typical Rams finish.
The final curtain at Pride Park for 16/17, against a Wolves side not too long ago threatened with a return to League 1. Thankfully, they got the memo that this honour should be instead reserved for Forest (If we all pray together…).
Unsurprisingly, this had an end of term feel with the Rams making 5 changes, our visitors 8.
After Scott Carson had deservedly been awarded player of the year and with several players chasing a future at Derby, we began brightly.
Driven by Ince, who one thinks could have a few suiters this Summer, the Rams dominated the early going. Wolves looked like a side already on the beach, as we harried and pressed well. It was no surprise to see Ince force the first chance, or rather chances.
His driving run into the box saw him force a good save from Burgoyne, who could only parry to Russell. Johnny’s subsequent cut-back found Johnson, playing further forwards, who crashed his effort against the bar. Still the danger wasn’t clear, as Ince once again tested Burgoyne.
The young Wolves stopper could evidently save, but certainly won the award for the most awkward looking kicking keeper at Pride Park this term.
He could do little however to prevent the Rams for scoring early. That man Ince once again cut in on his left, before curling a beauty of a cross onto the head of Nugent, who stooped to head in past the on-rushing keeper.
A goal that evidently delighted ‘Nuge’, not that you would know, given the fact you’d imagine David could be run over by a bus and still find something to laugh about…
Wolves were barely making headway as we were obviously interrupting their travel brochure browsing. After Ince was almost put clear, the same man teed up Russell, who when clear in the box, badly shanked his shot with the skill of a man already half-cut on the beach.
No matter as it was soon 2-0. Good play from Johnson saw him release Johnny on the left. As we’ve all been crying out for all season, he produced some classic wing play, showing skill and pace to beat his man before providing a quality centre. A centre which proved perfect for Johnson, who arrived ala Paul Scholes, to slot home.
Now, we threatened a hat-full, much to the delight of my mate who had backed a 5-0 Rams win pre - kickoff. After Burgoyne had done his best David James impression and flapped at a corner, Russell saw his effort cleared off the line.
Our visitors were offering precious little and their cause was all but flattened on 33 minutes.
Cavaleiro had a disagreement with Bradley Johnson in the middle of the pitch, which culminated in the Wolves man putting his head towards ours. A red card swiftly followed. Perhaps he could get a better all-inclusive deal somewhere this week?
We looked to rub salt into the wounds and went close twice. First, Bryson sent a dipping volley from a corner just wide, before Olsson’s fine cross found Russell, who was desperately unlucky to see his hooked volley strike the bar.
As we coasted towards half-time, we decided to expose our soft underbelly for one final time this year. A Wolves free-kick was helped on to the impressive Dicko, who did well to roll Keogh and roll the ball across the six yard box. Sloppy defending allowed Marshall a slip before he fired into the roof of the net. Game on? We’d find out after the break…
The second half began as the first, with the Rams dominating their now handicapped opponents. Much of the good play was coming from Russell, who was arguably having his best game of the season. His low cross was blocked away, before Keogh (yes really) saw his rising drive sail just over.
Just before the hour, we made the points safe. That man Russell was again the catalyst, with more excellent wing play. He once again showed his man a clean pair of heals before crossing into a dangerous area. Not that you’d have thought so, with Wolves defending their box with the gusto of a man faced with a grizzly bear. Bryson was the beneficiary, affording a touch before expertly drilling into the corner.
You got the feeling that if we wanted to, we could have hammered home the advantage. Instead, we favoured a more possession based approach, the football version of pupils bringing in a board game or DVD to while away the last hours of term.
To their credit, Wolves tried to play football and still caused Pearce a torrid time, so much so that having been booked, he was replaced by Christie to avoid evening up the numbers.
You always get the feeling that Cyrus is a failed winger, so imagine his delight to see so much space in front of him. He almost scored too - showing neat skill before curling a left-footed drive just over.
He laughed. The crowd laughed. And of course, Nugent laughed.
After Anya had somewhat surprisingly replaced Olsson for the final ten, given that we had young MacDonald on the bench, we still found time to allow Wolves’ substitute Enobakhare time and space to toe-poke goalwards on the break. However, Carson, as has been the case so many times this season, produced a good save.
It would have been harsh on the Rams though and after a token two minutes of added time, that was that for home games this season. Just one home defeat since September, one positive stat to build on for next term.
And there lies the proof in Mr Rowett’s pudding.
Next season. Who will still be here? Who will be shown the exit?
Will we ever see George Thorne again?
Will Mel Morris axe Rowett for not winning a game between May and July?!
No one knows.
One thing is for sure - not many, if any Rams players, can relax on their own holidays this year.
It’s sure to be one interesting Summer!
Weston’s Player Rating:
Scott Carson – 8: Did fine on his special day.
Chris Baird – 7: Grown to become Mr Consistent.
Richard Keogh – 6: Should have prevented the Wolves goal.
Alex Pearce – 5: Not a good day and doesn’t bode well.
Marcus Olsson – 6: Steady performance until replaced.
Bradley Johnson – 7: Good goal and a solid game.
Jacob Butterfield – 7: Did well but frustratingly slow at times.
Craig Bryson – 7: Vintage Craig and a good goal.
Johnny Russell – Weston’s Star Man 9: Two assists, a tireless display – hence he is my man.
Tom Ince – 7: Started off well and remained a threat.
David Nugent – 8: Another goal and good display.
Cyrus Christie – 6: Free reign down the right.
Ikechi Anya – 6: A non-eventful cameo.
Manager / Player Post Match Reaction:
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Photo: Action Images
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