Following Town’s win in South Wales on Saturday, Paul Merson, survivor of Sky Soccer Saturday’s dinosaur purge several years ago (or, in old time, September) opined that the play offs could be on.
The last time Paul connected his brain to his mouth over Huddersfield Town, he ended up dressed as a muppet so he will forgive us our skepticism about drawing conclusions from a welcome yet streaky win.
Neither should we get carried away by another victory over a gloriously inept Derby County side whose inability to deliver a set piece must have had the isolating Rooney tearing his manufactured hair out. Mel Morris, creative accountant extraordinaire, can only look on in horror at all the money spent to restore Premier League football coming to this.
A scruffy game, though not without entertaining moments, will be remembered for a cracking team goal finished by Bacuna but encapsulating the sheer promise of Corberán and his football philosophies, as well as the undoubtedly exciting prospect of just how much improvement, with these players and additions, he can achieve.
Not that much of the first half provided salivation. 2 brief, interesting spells, culminating in a couple of decent Pipa efforts were overshadowed by a largely jaded display with some alarmingly sloppy passing which an even slightly better team than Derby would have punished.
As it was, Hamer had one routine save to make while the plethora of free kicks, which were awarded rather too easily at times, and corner kicks created little if any threat for the visitors.
The Rams, however, had much the better of the first half and largely controlled possession and territory. Their undoing was a total absence of completion in the final third; Town’s rare attacks looked significantly more threatening.
As they had on Saturday, Town improved in the second half and after taking the lead with a goal which started with Hamer and involved an excellent contribution from Campbell on the halfway line to link with Bacuna who fed the marauding Toffolo. The full back, excellent all night, laid the ball perfectly in to the path of Bacuna, who had sprinted hard to follow up his incisive ball.
Earlier, another Toffolo surge nearly set up Campbell and the hosts were looking a different proposition to the team seemingly puzzled by the opposition’s set up in the first.
The goal allowed Town to stifle Derby with relative ease, though not without a couple of scares. Duane Holmes added a little urgency, and something a little different, when he came on and had a good effort which was neatly turned around the post down low. This thwarted any thought of Holmes under the Hamer puns*.
Late on, a snap header by Clarke clipped the post to deny the visitors a flattering point while Town wasted some good opportunities to punish Derby on the break; O’Brien with a few games under his belt would not have let them off the hook with poor execution when a team mate was free.
It was a very good time to play Derby, particularly without Rooney who would have relished so many set piece opportunities, and, brief flurries aside, a none too convincing performance but back to back wins will give the squad great belief to take in to the tough schedule before the next break.
They now have to consolidate with progress and results; there is a long, long way to go before we can even consider them anything other than a bottom half team with realistic relegation troubles, but the excitement will be them proving to us that this is a ridiculous assessment.
However, there is a spirit and resilience about the team combined with a decent amount of genuine talent which holds great promise.
* copyright @PopPopChris on Twitter who came up with this to produce the tweet of the night (possibly the season)