The biggest match of both these teams seasons failed to disappoint. This flowing contest, of which Southampton dominated for the majority, saw two of the top three in the Championship share the spoils in a 1-1 draw. Derby will most certainly be the happier of the two sides, as Southampton rallied from going behind in the 3rd minute, were the team on top for the majority, and were unfortunate not to snatch the victory.
Derby came into the game knowing they could only improve on their last result, a 4-0 defeat versus Leicester City, whilst Southampton had just won 4-0 against Watford. A full-house complimented the game, creating a buzzing atmosphere and topping up the capacity from the average gate of 25,000 this season. The Ram’s came out roaring in the 3rd minute as Theo Robinson netted the rebound of Kelvin Davis’ parried shot from Ben Davies long-range effort. Expectations were high enough as it is, so this quick start was a real boost to the side.
However, the goal seemed to be a wake-up call for the Saints who began to dominate possession, but couldn’t quite find the finishing touch they desperately needed. Derby’s closing down was slack, allowing the likes of Jack Cork and Guily De Prado shots from just outside the area. The talismanic Rickie Lambert was on form, having a couple of shots saved by the magnificent Frankie Fielding in goal, really saving Derby on a number of occasions. Derby rarely threatened in the first half, and were hindered by some fans, as they began to turn on the team, despite their slender one-goal advantage, which is pretty disappointing, personally, as the team are on one of their best runs in a while, and were playing the leaders! This brilliant start has since been rewarded with manager Nigel Clough being handed a new 4-year deal on Monday morning.
Back to the football, and the second-half brought yet more shots on goal by the visitors. Derby’s resilience eventually wore thin as the perennial Lambert confidentally lifted the ball over the advancing Fielding, for his 11th goal of the season. This was Lambert’s 68th goal in just 124 games for Southampton, amazing statistics that brought the club promotion last year, it may not be too long until the 29-year old tastes Premier League football, be it with the Saints or not.
Ironically, the equaliser seemed to wake Derby up. They finally started to string together a number attacks, which resulted in a flurry of corners. The delivery from Ben Davies, again, was excellent, providing the platform for chances from the likes of Jason Shackell and Robinson, chances which were spurned. Southampton still threatened through their attacking-minded midfield, but alas, no team could find the winner. Seven minutes of injury time were played, partly due to the head injury gained by Derby leading scorer Steve Davies. The striker had surgery on his skull on Sunday and has been ruled out up until January with a fractured skull. This will come as a blow to the Rams as they hit their hardest run of games for a while, however, this may well allow the likes of Chris Maguire, Tomasz Cywka-Davies’ substitute replacement-and even young Callum Ball, who’s been impressing in the Reserves, to stake their claim for a start in the first team.
A very good advert for Championship football, then, as two attack-minded teams cancelled each other out, just about!
Derby County: Fielding, Roberts, Shackell, Anderson, O’Brien, Bryson, B Davies, Hendrick, S Davies (Cywka 81), Ward, Robinson Subs not used: Legzdins, Kilbane, Doyle, Maguire
Southampton: Davis, Richardson (Hammond 73), Fonte, Fox, Hooiveld, Schneiderlin, Cork, Guly (Harding 90), Champlow (De Ridder 59), Lambert, Connolly Subs not used: Bialkowski, Martin
Ref: Brown Attendance: 33,010