|Posted by Stuart Hughes on January 29, 2012 at 2:20 PM|
A solitary goal from Theo Robinson as early as the 8th minute was enough for Derby County to knock Crystal Palace out of the F. A. Cup on Saturday.
Overall I thought the Rams deserved to beat the Eagles, particularly in the first half when we were on top for long periods. The second half was more even and we were put under pressure in closing minutes.
The foundation for the victory once again came from the back five who hardly put a foot wrong all game. For the third time in four games a clean sheet at the back meant that one goal was sufficient for victory. The defensive performance was outstanding but elsewhere the team were below par.
Up front, Robinson’s poor first touch conceded possession far too easily causing attack after attack to break down; out wide, the usually influential Jamie Ward found himself well marshalled by Mustapha Dumbuya; and in midfield James Bailey and Paul Green were wasteful in possession.
But a win is a win and Derby County are in the 4th Round of the F. A. Cup. The attendance of 10,113 was disappointing but, for me, the F. A. Cup has always been, and will always be, special.
By the time you read this, the Rams will know their 4th Round opponents. I’m already looking forward to the draw, the 4th Round game, and the exciting possibility of a good cup run with a Premiership scalp or two along the way.
Rams Star Man: The back five of Frank Fielding, John Brayford, Gareth Roberts, Jason Shackell and Shaun Barker were all very impressive in keeping Crystal Palace at bay.
For me though, our skipper Shaun Barker was simply outstanding. He mistimed a header in the first minute and after that he did absolutely nothing wrong. Barks never missed another header or tackle all game, he was calm and composed, and he showed a fine touch and distribution when on the ball.
Our captain now looks to be fully recovered after injury, back to his best, and his central defensive partnership with Shackell seems to be living up to expectations.
Referee Watch: I thought referee Darren Drysdale had a very good game with the whistle. Drysdale allowed the game to flow, was decisive when he needed to be, and kept his yellow and red cards in his pocket for the duration. I hardly noticed him to be honest and, when that happens, you know the referee has had a good game. Well done, Mr. Drysdale.
Published in the Derby Telegraph Monday 9th January 2012.