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Derby County serve up mixed bag against Ipswich Town

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: September 01, 2014

By Steve Nicholson

UP AND RUNNING ... Derby's Chris Martin (centre) about to open the scoring against Ipswich at the iPro Stadium.

UP AND RUNNING ... Derby's Chris Martin (centre) about to open the scoring against Ipswich at the iPro Stadium.

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THIS patchy performance by Derby County rather mirrored what has been a mixed bag of a start to the season by Steve McClaren's team.

"We could easily have lost the game, and could easily have won," said head coach McClaren.

"We could have won all of our games this season, and we could have lost them, we really could."

Nothing has changed in the Championship, then.

Fine margins decide most, if not all matches.

Those fine lines have left Derby with eight points from 15 going into the first pit-stop – international break – of the campaign.

A steady start, but inconsistency has been the buzz word in the opening weeks.

Derby have hit the right notes, and also been off key in the games. This is to be expected at this early stage, and especially after last season ended in juddering fashion at Wembley.

"That's been the first seven games so far, the good, the bad, and it's down to inconsistency," said McClaren after Saturday's 1-1 draw against Ipswich Town at the iPro Stadium.

Derby blew hot at the beginning and at the end of the first half, and also in the closing stages of the contest.

However, they were lukewarm and cold in other periods of the game.

Given that, there can be little complaint about the result.

Goalkeeper Lee Grant was the Rams' best player on the day, closely followed by central defender Richard Keogh.

This tells us that, yes, Derby could have won it but they also had to work hard to collect a point.

McClaren stuck with the team that demolished Fulham in the previous league outing, making six changes from the side that eliminated Charlton in the Capital One Cup.

Derby eyed a 10th consecutive home win stretching back to March and they appeared to be on course when Chris Martin grabbed his fourth goal of the season in the 13th minute.

Ipswich will not want to watch a video of their defending.

Luke Hyam skied his attempted clearance before Martin's first effort, a header, was saved by Dean Gerken.

Johnny Russell's follow-up was cleared off the line by Jonathan Parr and Martin pounced to find the net from six yards.

A perfect start.

Derby had control, the movement and tempo was good, and the signs highly encouraging.

But then they lost their way.

Their play became ragged, and on and off the pitch everybody became edgy and frustrated.

Losing Jeff Hendrick with a shoulder injury, and a six-minute delay while he was treated, did not help matters although Ipswich posed little of an attacking threat first half.

They were without key striker David McGoldrick, the subject of transfer talk, but delivery at corners and free kicks fell short of the required standard.

Ipswich tend to rely heavily on set-pieces, as Derby discovered in the 4-4 draw last season.

Derby sparked again just before the break, Jamie Ward twice went close, but their wobbles continued in a sloppy start to the second half during which they were punished.

Too many free kicks were conceded, and too many corners (11 in total), and this allowed Ipswich to find their range.

Paul Anderson's curling free kick after 52 minutes was met by defender Christophe Berra who headed down and past Grant for his third goal in the last three games.

Grant denied Anderson from close range and the keeper also tipped over Teddy Bishop's drive as the visitors threatened a second goal.

Bishop, an 18-year-old midfielder, caught the eye.

Derby struggled to keep possession, and regain their shape and momentum. They need to handle tough periods in matches better than we saw on Saturday.

As they started to surface again, Ward's shot was pushed away by Gerken before substitute Leon Best was introduced from the bench and he made his presence felt alongside Martin in attack.

Both sides had opportunities to take the three points.

Best headed over from a Bryson corner and Martin's low shot was deflected narrowly wide.

For Ipswich, Daryl Murphy went close and Hyam failed to connect properly when put in by Kevin Bru.

Some of referee Eddie Ilderton's decisions angered Derby fans but the bottom line is that Rams did not reach the standards of which they capable.

They are now without a home win against Ipswich in seven attempts.

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