Scunthorpe United v Derby County

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Football League Championship

Scunthorpe United0(0)Derby County0(0)

Scunthorpe United :
Lillis, Gordon, Nelson, Reid, A.Wright, Togwell, Hughes, J.Wright (Collins 68), Duffy (Ibrahim 83), Miller, Garner (Grant 78).
Subs not used:
Slocombe, Raynes, Mirfin, Godden.

Derby County :
Bywater, Brayford, Roberts, Barker, Addison, Ayala, Green, Savage, B.Davies, S.Davies (Porter 77), Ward (Cywka 71).
Subs not used:
Deeney, Pringle, Doyle, Bueno.


by Derby Telegraph at Glanford Park

GOALS, victories and points may be in short supply right now - quality as well at times - but Derby County are showing the commitment they will need if they are to dig themselves out of a hole in the Championship.

Six points from the last 39 has left the Rams in their lowest League position since September and looking over their shoulders. But there appears to be a dogged determination to face the challenge head on.

It was seen in the draw at Portsmouth in the previous away game and again in a keenly and evenly-contested goalless draw against Scunthorpe United at Glanford Park on Saturday.

A point from Scunthorpe? Some might turn up their noses, given the Iron's struggles this season.

Scunthorpe have been in the bottom three since early December. They have the worst home record in the division, scored fewest goals along with Sheffield United and no team in the division have lost more games.

But Scunthorpe have got their teeth into a survival battle, as recent results show.

They have conceded only once in their last three matches, two of which have been against promotion chasers Cardiff City and Nottingham Forest.

The victory over Forest boosted Scunthorpe's belief that they can escape relegation.

So this was always going to be a tough test for a Derby team whose last win was at bottom club Preston North End on New Year's Day.

It was never going to be pretty - it never is when teams are scrapping for points. Tension tends to inhibit players.

The muddy pitch and the wet conditions added to the slog but Derby rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in.

Seeing players trudge off at half-time and at the final whistle in mud-spattered shirts was a throwback to the days when football boots had to be cleaned after every match, the days when the game was played on pitches and not carpets.

Derby did not work Josh Lillis enough in the home goal, which was disappointing, and they have now failed to score in five of their last eight outings, which is a concern.

With flowing football difficult and few chances created, it was far from a memorable 90 minutes but Derby's recovery has to start somewhere.

They were thankful to the alert Stephen Bywater, who made two fine saves in a frenetic opening six minutes.

He plunged to his right to deny Liam Miller and from the resulting corner, he tipped over a towering header from Michael Nelson.

Loud shouts for a penalty when Andy Hughes went down under the challenge of Gareth Roberts were waved away by the referee before Derby started to find their feet.

Jamie Ward made a promising debut following his loan switch from Sheffield United and he fired a shot from a tight angle beyond the far post.

The striker is nippy and showed he can be a nuisance to defenders. His inclusion made the Rams' attacking play less predictable than it had been in recent weeks.

On-loan defender Daniel Ayala came in for his first start. Early indications suggest he is confident with the ball at his feet and he won his headers.

Of greater significance, perhaps, was the appetite he showed in making up for his own error with a crucial block on Josh Wright on the half-hour mark.

Derby need a settled partnership at centre-back. Too much chopping and changing for various reasons in that department has hampered them again this season.

Scunthorpe edged the first half but Derby improved in a second half in which both teams had a goal disallowed for offside.

Paul Green turned the ball in from close range two minutes after the restart only to see the linesman's flag go up and then the midfielder sent a shot straight at Lillis as the Rams upped the tempo.

Green became more involved after the break, although he needs to take greater care with his passing.

Robbie Savage and Miles Addison took a grip on the midfield. Savage's form had dipped in recent weeks, along with that of the team, but the 36-year-old used his experience and made good decisions on the ball in the difficult conditions.

A Ben Davies shot was deflected narrowly wide after good play by Steve Davies and John Brayford's surges from right-back threatened to open up Scunthorpe but not once did the ball drop kindly for Derby in the area.

That will change if they keep getting the ball and bodies in the box.

A goal might come if Derby start to read the flight of Ben Davies' free kicks better. An inswinger from him early in the game only needed a touch but nobody obliged.

Bywater's one save of note in the second half came when he got down very well to keep out a low shot from the lively Mark Duffy, who had twisted and turned his way past Green and Brayford. Bywater had a solid game.

Scunthorpe thought they had won it six minutes from time when substitute Abdisalam Ibrahim headed in Ben Gordon's centre but the flag was up for offside.

A first clean sheet in seven matches is welcome and a point on the road should never be a disappointment.

The point increased the gap between Derby and the bottom three to seven, despite them dropping a place to 18th.

They also have a superior goal difference over the three teams in the drop zone, all of whom failed to win.

We would rather see Derby in the top half of the table but they are not and performances and value of points picked up will mirror this until confidence blossoms again.