Blackpool 0 Derby 1 - full match report

Derby's goal scorer Craig Bryson takes on Brett Ormerod
Derby's goal scorer Craig Bryson takes on Brett Ormerod
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IT’S not often a city is proud of a car park. Derby is. There hasn’t been a car broken into or stolen from the multi-storey Bold Lane car park – which has motion sensors located in the ground beneath each space – since January 18 1998.

The firm that runs it (Parksafe Systems: I’ll mention it on the off-chance they’re reading and are so happy with this plug, they’ll offer me free parking for a year) is so confident in its security that it promises to cover the cost of repairing any damage caused by ‘theft of, or theft from a vehicle’.

It clearly takes this seriously: after a customer complained about a small scratch a couple of years back, they installed foam barriers between the parking bays to prevent doors opening into neighbouring vehicles.

This sterling work going on in Derby’s city centre has not gone unnoticed.

A study published by science magazine BBC Focus listed the building as one of the ten “most secure places in the world”, alongside – wait for it – Air Force One, Area 51, and Fort Knox.

Blimey, remind me never to don a stripey jumper, grab a bag emblazoned with the word ‘LOOT’, and head there for a night’s action.

The cruel-hearted might suggest Derby should have relocated from Pride Park to said car park over the last few years, such has been the club’s tendency to allow opposing teams to steal points.

But this year, with Nigel Clough well-settled at the helm after a difficult couple of seasons, the talk locally is that things will be different.

Derby are hoping to be up there challenging, rather than struggling.

Based on last night’s evidence, that talk is not misplaced.

The visitors came, saw and conquered, and will feel they deserved their victory.

There wasn’t much in the contest – two evenly-balanced teams – but the Rams were ever so solid at the back and their commitment to the cause was evident all evening.

That’s not to say Pool’s was any less. Everyone in Tangerine gave 100 per cent.

Unfortunately it was one of those nights – nights thankfully rare under Holloway – when there was simply a lack of spark up front.

The Seasiders played plenty of nice stuff, but mainly in areas where they couldn’t hurt the opposition.

The main problem was that there was no one to aim at in forward areas.

Gary Taylor-Fletcher was excellent on the night but he has always been better coming from deep. Ditto Brett Ormerod these days.

And Kevin Phillips, probably frustrated at a lack of service, dropped deep too.

That meant, when possession was won, there was no one to pick out down the centre.

So instead passes went sideways rather than forward, and Derby weren’t hurt.

Other than that, there wasn’t too much wrong.

With Barry Ferguson and Keith Southern sitting deep in midfield and offering good protection to the back four, the team looks much more secure and defensively sound.

Indeed, it speaks volumes that the decisive goal came from a set piece.

It was the only way Derby looked likely to score (though having said that Jamie Ward rattled the upright with a tremendous second half effort from distance).

But Blackpool weren’t cut open and didn’t struggle.

So that end of the pitch seems sorted – it’s now the attack the manager needs to fine-tune.

Holloway doesn’t need telling that. He has spoken about the need to add a striker or two at length for the last few weeks and did so again after last night.

A big targetman wouldn’t go amiss and it would be a surprise if the manager didn’t bring one in before the end of the month.

For this game, Pool made one change, enforced, from the side which beat Peterborough – Matt Hill making his league debut for the unwell Craig Cathcart.

There isn’t much to report from the first 45 minutes because, in truth, the teams cancelled each other out.

Both were full of running and it was hectic stuff, but defences were on top – particularly Derby’s well drilled and hard-working back-line – and as a result few openings presented themselves.

The closest either side came to scoring was in a moment prior to half time when Stephen Crainey found himself inside the area, in space, and on his favoured left foot.

Instead of shooting, he drilled the ball across the six yard box towards the waiting Gary Taylor-Fletcher, but Derby skipper Jason Shackell brilliantly diverted the ball for a corner.

From the half-cleared flag kick, Keith Southern fired a sweetly-struck left foot volley through a crowd of players but Frank Fielding – Derby’s summer recruit from Blackburn – kept his eye on it and made a good stop.

The second half was more of the same.

For a long while, it seemed as though it would be a carbon copy of the last time Pool met Derby in the Championship: two years ago, also third game in at Bloomfield Road, a goalless draw that was pretty dull.

A repeat of that would have been preferable to what actually happened, as the visitors claimed the points, thanks to Craig Bryson’s match-winning strike in the 69th minute.

It came from a free kick, after Matt Hill had fouled Steve Davies 25 yards out.

The Rams striker took it himself, firing a powerful left footer towards the bottom corner.

Matt Gilks parried, but the rebound fell conveniently for Craig Bryson, who guided the ball in.

Holloway was fuming, saying his players should have reacted quicker and got to Gilks parry ahead of Bryson.

He’s probably right, but it still fell nicely into Bryson’s path nonetheless.

Taylor-Fletcher, Pool’s best player all night, whacked a shot against the outside of the post after dancing past an opposition defender for the umpteenth time.

Tom Ince, one of three substitutes used by Holloway (Billy Clarke and Craig Sutherland also thrown on), looked lively and may have scored had Taylor-Fletcher not nicked the ball off him inside the area.

It was Taylor-Fletcher’s one error of the evening.

Derby played out time really well, to the extent that the Seasiders never looked like equalising.

Credit to Nigel Clough’s men for that.

They haven’t won their opening three games since before World War Two and look set for a good campaign.

So do Blackpool.

They looked every inch a good side, but were undone by one parried free kick.

That was the only difference between the sides.

A little more pizzazz up front and Pool will do just fine.

That said, the next two games will test them to the limit – tough trips to Brighton (who kept up their 100 per cent record last night) and Crystal Palace.

To conclude: it’s a shame the Seasiders didn’t go joint top last night but six points from nine is still an excellent return.

In the promotion season, lest we forget, they took four points from the first four games.

All still looks pretty rosy to me.