Welcome back to the second part of my Derby County series. In the first post, you could read about the narrative and type of challenge to the save. If you missed it, you could find it here.
We had a great start to the season, scoring and conceding many goals, which continued for the following months. I find it hard to adjust and tighten up defensively, but I feel I’ve managed to do it.
In September, a new owner bought the club, and while it didn’t change much, at least we can offer contracts, the transfer embargo is over, and the future looks a little better and more certain for us.
September started great with back to back wins against Birmingham and West Brom. That’s two solid wins and a huge bonus to get our first clean sheet for the season. After that, however, a dip in form was inevitable, with players missing and the depth of the squad being like it is. The sign was against Stoke when we gave away a two-goal lead and drew the game.
In the next game against Sheff Utd, we took the lead, and everyone turned their heads off. 1-5 is terrible and frustrating when you take the lead and outshoot the opposition. We did our best against relegation rivals Reading, again taking the lead and throwing it away. Two red cards didn’t help us much, but Luke Plange managed to equalise after 76 minutes before we blew it just six minutes later.
Points in September: 7/15
Against Swansea, it was bound to be a challenging game with seven changes from the last game. We never really stood a chance. We can take to positives from the game after all, and that is Kazim-Richards being back from injury and Malcolm Ebiowei coming from the bench and scoring for the second time this season.
After the international break, the players were rested, and we managed to deliver much better performance against Preston and won our first game in a month. Kazim-Richards kept improving his form and netted his first of the season to win us the game.
Against Luton, we did what we always seem to do this season; Giving away the lead. Shinnie gave us the lead in the first half with a rare goal. It turned after two late goals from the man with possibly the longest name in football; Elijah Adebayo. It would be good for my word count to write his full name, though.
Guess what happened against Coventry then? Going 2-0 up with 26 minutes left to play and, of course, drawing the game. Oh, my days, it’s so frustrating to watch…
The Blackburn game was a special one, with us turning the game around for a change. Tom Lawrence is finding his form again with two goals in the last two games. And we are finally in the positive again with one point on the board. Here we go!
Points in October: 7/15
Bobby Duncan has been making a name for himself U23 Premier League and won player of the month in October and is the top scorer. It’s much deserved that he got his League debut against Barnsley. The game itself was a typical one for us this season. Luke Plange gave us the lead, and Barnsley turned it around. This time with a penalty in the 88th minute. Personal errors are really costing us points now.
The scenario repeated itself against Millwall, although we missed several vital players.
Bournemouth and Fulham were two games that I wasn’t expecting to grab anything from. However, going toe to toe with Bournemouth and taking the lead two times is a good performance for us. Due to a lack of fit strikers and even scored our second goal.
Against Fulham, we didn’t stand a chance against the best team in the division. The game was practically over after 13 minutes.
In the last game of November and after a month of bad performances, we really needed to put in a strong performance against QPR. And so we did. We also managed to hang on to our lead once and got three vital points.
Points in November: 4/15
We beat Bristol City after two goals inside the first 25 minutes. Then, of course, we conceded a late goal, but we are now managing to hold on to our points.
Against both Blackpool and Cardiff, Luke Plange gave us an early lead before the opponent equalised. For now, at least, we seem to manage to tie the games we lost earlier in the season. That can prove vital for us to stay in the Championship when May comes. Luke Plange has had four goals in the last four games, taking his total tally to double digits.
WBA was a frustrating game for us. Grabbing the lead twice before conceding the equaliser four minutes into injury time. Still, we grab a point and have a five-game unbeaten run.
That run crashed and burned against Stoke. I threw Eiran Cashin in deep water and hoped he could swim – he couldn’t. Curtis Davies did his best, but it wasn’t enough to stop Stoke.
Points in December: 6/15
The table as it stands after the Stoke game. All in all, I feel we’ve done a good season so far and would’ve been far from relegation without the deducted points. We have everything to play for, and with the same average points per game, I think we will manage to fight our way out of the relegation zone.
Nathan Byrne has been exceptional for us this season from his position as wing-back and full-back. He’s our best performer in terms of average rating with 7.38, making him the 5th best in the division.
With his great pace and ability to cross, he’s contributed with eight assists, only beaten by Domingos Quina from Barnsley. The next defender/fullback on the list is actually Lee Buchanan, so it’s clear that we have managed to do one thing better than the rest. We are in talks with Byrne to renew his contract, although his wage demands are a bit higher than what we can afford. So hopefully, we can keep him for another season.
So far this season, ten players from the academy have had their debut for the first team, and 16 players in total have played for the first team. I thought that would affect the results, especially the U23s, but with a 4th place in the U23 Premier League so far, it hasn’t had the effect I thought it would’ve.
The U18s are placed 6th in the U18 Premier League North and are through to the fourth round of the FA cup.
There were a lot better results than we could’ve hoped for, and proof that the academy has immense talents that are yet to play for the first team. However, with six first-team players having transfer already agreed in the following months, it’s a considerable probability that some will get their debuts, and some will see much more playing time coming their way.