HEAD coach Steve McClaren was delighted with Derby County’s determination to keep a clean sheet in Monday night’s victory over one of the favourites for promotion, Queens Park Rangers.
McClaren watched midfielder John Eustace head the decisive goal in the 1-0 win at the iPro Stadium, and then saw his players dig in during the second half to keep Harry Redknapp’s Rangers at bay for three points that lifted the Rams to within one point of Burnley and Rangers, who are in second and third in the Championship respectively.
Asked what pleased him most about the win, McClaren said: “The determination of the players, the determination to get a clean sheet. The fight for 95 minutes.
“Everyone in the dressing room could not move afterwards. They put everything into the game.”
Derby further cemented their position in the top six and they now have to be seen as contenders for one of the two automatic promotion places with Leicester City, clear leaders at the moment.
But McClaren will not be drawn on talk of automatic promotion.
“We are not looking at the top two but we keep looking at seventh position and making sure we collect enough points to keep in the play-off spots,” he said.
“Clean sheets are important, especially after the Yeovil and Birmingham games when we conceded five in those two games. We weren’t too happy about them.
“The players take tremendous credit, they all worked for the clean sheet and that won us the game.
“We can always score. We got the one but we should have had more because we had the opportunities.
“And then we had enough to hold on to and defended very well.
“Burnley, QPR and Leicester have got all the experience over a full season.
“We have shown inexperience in the last few games.
“We are an enthusiastic team, full of running and you saw that.
“It’s about belief – it gives you great belief when you beat somebody in the top six.”