The early exchanges between Derby County and Charlton Athletic were not decisive for either side, but then Derby County got an easy goal after nine minutes with a tap in from Hendrick after it had seemed that a home player was offside, but Bent had been given free scope. No one expected it to be easy, but such an early setback was disheartening.
A Johnson header was required to deal with a Derby attack. The front three of Ince, Lingard and Bent were giving Charlton problems. A Derby shot went not far wide. Cousins, out injured, was being missed in the middle. Derby were flooding forward once they got the ball with a five man attack and Lingard buried Derby’s second. Roger Johnson was furious. It was all too easy. Charlton needed to tighten up in midfield. One pass and Buyens was out of the game.
Every time Charlton got the ball they couldn’t get into the Derby half and the Rams were threatening every time they came forward. As soon as Charlton went forward, there were three men on the ball and it was unsettling the Addicks.
Henderson had to pluck a Derby free kick out of the air. The movement from the Derby players was very fluent. Charlton tried to launch an attack, but the momentum disappeared and they went backwards.
Charlton got a corner after Bulot threatened, following a loose pass in midfield snapped up by Buyens. The ball was eventually cleared from the corner. Derby did seem to have taken their foot off the pedal. Charlton were recovering their organisation which they had had at the beginning of the game.
Sloppy work by Ben Haim gave Derby a shooting chance, but fortunately it went just left of Henderson’s goal. The keeper would not have reached it.
A shot from Solly needed a save from Grant. Charlton had managed to put some serious pressure on the Derby goal. Watt was fouled and Charlton got a free kick in a promising position. Gudmundsson’s effort from 25 yards out needed a save at full stretch from Grant. It was panic stations at the corner, but ultimately it was unproductive. After a disastrous first fifteen minutes, Charlton were getting into the game.
Darren Bent got in behind the defence, but the move was unproductive. With one minute of injury time, Charlton found themselves under pressure after a poor ball by Wilson. Derby then hit the crossbar. It was a frantic last minute. However, the Addicks had recovered well from a disastrous first fifteen minutes.
Rams 2, Addicks 0
Wilson had not a good first half in midfield and Diarra was brought on. Buyens had to make a good tackle to break up a Derby attack.
Diarra put in some excellent defending with an excellent tackle to win the ball back for Charlton. An attempt by Diarra was blocked by Keogh after a free kick. The Derby tried to rally their team after Charlton applied some pressure.
Diarra put in another excellent tackle, he had won three or four challenges. On 68 minutes Bulot went off and Chris ‘Red Robin’ Eagles came on.
Lingard went off and Dawkins came on. Charlton brought on Harriott and Watt, who may have taken a knock, was taken off. Derby brought on Mascarell. Derby took off Hughes and brought on Bryson.
Charlton got a free kick five or six yards outside the penalty area, but Gudmundsson’s effort went just over the bar. Perhaps the ball should have been directed to Harriott.
Harriott did well to win the ball back for Charlton. The Addicks made a good move, but the ball was collected by the keeper.
Ben Haim put in a good tackle and then a shot cannoned off Diarra to give the Rams a corner. Henderson took the ball comfortably.
Three minutes were added on, but they were uneventful. Word came through that Millwall were losing 0-3 at home to Sheffield Wednesday (final score 1-3).
All the damage had been done in the first fifteen minutes, but at least it was not a rout at the hands of the league leaders. Charlton fell back to 16th, but were eight points above the top relegation spot occupied by Millwall.<>The local Derby fan has commented: 'You gave our young talented midfielders far too much space in the first twenty minutes by standing off and defending deep. Once you pushed up and crowded midfield it stopped the flow for us but killed the game for your as well. To be honest on the first half it looked as if they were trying to waste time to get in only two down. Charlton were much better second half doubling up on our providers but actually the best chances came in the first half. The last hour was a bit of a damp squib to be honest.'
It should also be noted that the only top eight side we have left to play is Bournemouth (on the last day of the season).