James Chester reports on the play-off semi-final first leg.
April 5th 2016 was what turned out to be a pivotal defeat for City in their charge for promotion when a 4-0 loss to today’s opposition left them languishing in the play-off places and seven points off second place Middlesbrough. To return to try and beat them to get to Wembley was going to be no easy task.
There was a sense of trepidation amongst those travelling to the East Midlands after an average last few weeks to the season, with the defeat at lowly Bolton being countered by the thrashing of Rotherham at the KCOM.
You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife in the IPro Stadium and with an almost capacity crowd the ground was literally rocking.
The Rams had all the early pressure but failed to challenge Eldin Jakupovic, who played due to a back injury to Allan McGregor the latter picked up in training prior to the game.
As City started to build pressure a mistake from Bradley Johnson let in Abel Hernandez and the Uruguayan rifled home from 30 yards to give City the vital lead.
It was not long after this when Moses Odubajo broke down the right channel and slipped inside Rams left back Martin Olsson. The former Brentford man’s cross was deflected off the buttock of Jason Shackell to double the lead before the interval.
The Rams were shell-shocked.
City carried on piling pressure on the hosts for the second half but it was not until injury time when, after a Derby corner, a break from young whippet Andy Robertson led to him firing home to give City the 3-0 lead they most definitely deserved going into Tuesday’s second leg.