After two successive goalless draws, the Rams returned to winning ways on Saturday with an excellent 3-0 win at home to Brentford.
The main talking point of this game was the dismissal of the Bees’ Sergi Canos early in the first half. In my opinion, the challenge, which was a two-footed, studs-up lunge, merited the red card. Marcus Olsson was lucky not to suffer serious injury from it. It’s interesting that despite protests from Brentford team manager Dean Smith, they aren’t appealing the decision.
The game saw Tom Huddlestone score his first-ever goal in a Derby County shirt. Now in his second spell with the club, he finally hit the net after 125 appearances. Incidentally, his first-ever league goal was scored against Derby while on loan to Wolves many years ago. Since then, although never being prolific, he has managed to score a few.
Huddlestone was a stand-out figure from Saturday’s game in which every Derby player played a part. Cameron Jerome scored on his full debut and Matej Vydra converted a late penalty to keep him among the leading scorers in the division.
What was pleasing was the performance of Ikechi Anya, who now finds himself with an opportunity to establish himself in the first team since the departure of Johnny Russell. Anya came close to opening the scoring early on and never stopped running the whole game.
While Derby won, our rivals for automatic promotion did likewise, with Wolves, Aston Villa and Cardiff City all doing the business and earning three points. That’s not to write off Bristol City, but they slipped up at Bolton.
The division’s form side, Fulham, also won, disposing of Nottingham Forest, and are now sitting pretty, ready to capitalise on every mistake made by the teams above them.
Norwich City visit Pride Park on Saturday, and Cameron Jerome will no doubt be hoping that he starts for a second successive game against his old club. Jerome was a key figure the last time Norwich achieved promotion.
Norwich have had, by their standards, a disappointing season so far. That said, they will be far from pushovers on Saturday.
One thing that I have noticed this season is the lower crowds than last season. There were just under 26,000 at Saturday’s game. We are winning games, conceding very few goals, so why are 3,000-odd people staying away? Is it the price of tickets?
Speaking of tickets and season tickets in particular, chairman Mel Morris confirmed that all fans who renew before April 2 will receive a refund, should the club achieve promotion. Most fans have had their criticisms of our owner, but this is a fabulous gesture and will reward all those fans who stuck by the club should we realise our dream.