|Posted by Stuart Hughes on January 29, 2012 at 2:20 PM|
As a Rams supporter Derby County delivered the perfect Christmas and New Year present over the festive period with three wins out of three. Home victories over Leeds United and West Ham United followed up with an away victory against Hull City was beyond my wildest dreams.
On Saturday attention turns to the third round of the F.A. Cup and Derby County must surely go into the home tie against Crystal Palace brimming with confidence. The squad is virtually at full strength with, arguably, Steven Davies and Jeff Hendrick the only injured players who might make the starting eleven if everybody was fit.
What we’re seeing now with the first choice back-five available is a much more solid, resilient, and hard to break down outfit which means one goal (although I’d like to see more, obviously) can win a game as we saw against Leeds United and Hull City.
It also helps to see a more threatening front line with Theo Robinson and Nathan Tyson available again and the superb Jamie Ward supporting from wide. Most pleasing for me though is the sight of young Callum Ball taking his opportunity with strong performances and goals too.
For me there remains something very special about the cup competitions. The prospect of a good long cup run excites me as does the opportunity to draw a Premier League club at home. And as one of either Cardiff City or Crystal Palace themselves will demonstrate in the League Cup (Carling Cup) it is possible with good form and favourable draws for a Championship side to reach Wembley for a cup final.
It’s my Mum’s birthday on Saturday and two days later she undergoes replacement hip surgery. I’m confident Derby County will earn a place in the fourth round of the F.A. Cup as a birthday present.
Eagle’s Danger Man: There’s been a lot of talk about Crystal Palace’s young striker Wilfried Zaha and I’m looking forward to seeing how Shaun Barker and Jason Shackell deal with him. He is described as being fast, strong and full of tricks.
Previous Encounters: There’s only one previous encounter I could possibly include here. One of my proudest moments – if not the proudest moment – of my life as a Rams supporter. 28th April 1996 [please check date] at the Baseball Ground. Win and Derby County are in the Premier League. Early in the first-half Dean Sturridge sprints through to give the Rams a 1-0 lead. The Eagles equalise midway through the first half. A draw isn’t enough for promotion but our superb captain Robin van der Laan rises highest to head home a second half corner. The Rams hold on for 2-1 and Derby County are in the Premier League.
Published in the Derby Telegraph on Friday 6th January 2012.