STEVE McClaren is delighted to see Derby County showing two sides to their game,
Derby have won matches playing free-flowing football and scoring plenty of goals as seen against Sheffield Wednesday, Blackpool and in the first half at Wigan in the past two months.
They have also proved they can pick up points by grinding out results, as they did at Bournemouth, Charlton and Huddersfield on Boxing Day.
The 1-1 draw at Huddersfield was a perfect example of the two strings to Derby’s bow.
First half, they played some eye-catching, progressive football and the only criticism is that they did not lead by more than one goal at the break.
Their goal came from a wonderful move.
Andre Wisdom stormed forward from right back and centred to the back post where Chris Martin displayed composure and awareness to knock the ball across the six-yard box for Craig Bryson to find the net and record his 11th goal of an excellent season for the Scottish international midfielder.
Martin’s part in the goal was all the more impressive given he had seen his penalty saved a few minutes early.
In frustration, the striker could have gone for goal himself but knew the better option was to set up Bryson.
Martin, top scorer on 13, has had a direct hand in the last four goals Derby have scored.
In the second half at Huddfersfield, Derby had their moments but they also had to defend as the Terriers produced a spirited response.
McClaren praised the displays of centre backs Jake Buxton and Michael Keane afterwards, as well as goalkeeper Lee Grant who made a number of saves before he was beaten by Martin Paterson’s dipping volley four minutes from time.
Derby sat second in the Championship at one stage of the afternoon before dropping back to fourth following Paterson’s equaliser, but McClaren stresses that he is more concerned with performances than position in the table.
“I am only focusing on the team. Can we compete like this for the rest of the season?” he said.
“When we have to play football, we can do that, and we can score goals but when we have to dig in and defend, we can do that too.
“It is vital that you can do both in this division.”
McClaren was pleased with the performance against Huddersfield and says his team is standing up to the test offered by the Championship.
“We can play our football and we can grind out a result,” he added.
“The result at Huddersfield could have been better, and should have been at half time, but Huddersfield are a good side at home.
“It was a physical game, and an open game. Both teams went all out for a win.”
Derby, generally, have scored the second goal in games to go two up. They did in the victories over Sheffield Wednesday, Wigan, Charlton and Doncaster.
“We couldn’t quite get that second goal at Huddersfield,” said McClaren.
“We did in our previous away game at Charlton when they missed a header from five yards and we went up the other end and got the second goal, so that could have been all different but that is Championship football.”