The two teams going into this game had had two extreme starts:one extremely good, one extremely bad. Derby had won their first 3 opening games of the season since the 40s, whilst Donny had lost all 3 and were rooted to the foot of the league, so going into the game Derby were expected to win it comfortably.
And win comfortably they did. The Rams started the game unchanged from the midweek victory at Blackpool, and began with a more urgent sense of impetus than their opponents. The bright start was rewarded with a goal coming from Ben Davies’ corner, Kevin Kilbane climbing above the Doncaster defence to guide the ball into the net. It was the beginning of a good day for both Derby and Davies; as he went on to produce one of his best performances in a Rams shirt.
However, after the goal, Derby settled back, allowing the opposition to dominate in possession, and territory. Luckily for the home team, they couldn’t convert it into any decent pressure, ex-Ram Giles Barnes ballooning an effort way over the bar. Barnes was booed throughout by fans, following the unsacrimonious way in which he left the club, after rows over his pay. He later claimed Derby were nothing but a ‘stepping stone’ for his career, which is rather ironic given the circumstances of yesterday’s match. Donny continued pressing for the rest of the half, leaving Derby to escape back into
the home dressing room for the interval.
The second half began with a bang for the Rams, as, after only 20 seconds, Ben
Davies again whipped an accurate cross into the box for his namesake Steven to nod home at the back post. This was S Davies’ 3rd goal in 4 games, proving to his critics that, if given a run in the team and his fitness isn’t an issue, that he can be top goalscorer.
The quick start to the half shell-shocked the visitors, which told as Derby had
probably their best spell of pressure, looking to score at every opportunity. Eventually, after a blocked attempt, provider turned scorer as Ben Davies got his name on the scoresheet, receiving the ball on the edge of the box, turning on curling the ball past the Doncaster keeper on the hour mark. For the remaining half an hour, the game was played out in both halves, but it was never really in doubt for Derby, Rovers never even looked like stealing a consolation goal. The introduction of Theo Robinson from the bench gave pace to a tiring strikeforce, and bar a shot or two from Robinson, the game petered out as a contest.
As much as it was nice to see Derby pressing for goals, it was great to psychologically get the clean sheet. It was the third in four games, and something which has been missing from the Rams sides of the past few seasons. The rearguard was policed well by stand-in captain Jason Shackell, with youngsters Frankie Fielding and Mark O’Brian giving commanding performances. For Doncaster, the season ahead looks to be long and hard, they showed little creativity and looked to be in ‘damage limitation’ mode, rarely attempting to threaten the Derby goal.
All in all a comfortable day for Derby, as they won four opening games of the
season for the first time since 1905, 106 long years ago. This season looks
promising for the Rams, that’s for sure.