Report: Derby 1-0 Spurs
English Barclays Premiership
John Gorman suggested in the week that it would make a change of we played poorly and got a result. Well, it wasn't by any means vintage, even of this season, but our first half display warranted some reward at Pride Park.
We totally bossed the game in that spell, had five decent efforts including two free headers from six yards straight at Oakes and a Sheringham goal disallowed.
But it wasn't to be. Instead, the script went as planned and John Gregory won his first game as Derby manager thanks to a fine goal, hard work, spirit and the ability to dig deep under pressure.
As expected, the home side piled on the early pressure and both the pacy Morris and Valakari went close before Christie forced Sullivan into action for the first time with a smart one-handed save to his left, nine minutes into the half.
Christie headed straight at Sullivan a few minutes later but it was all Spurs for the next 15 minutes.
Sheringham put the ball in the net from Iversen's lay off only to be adjudged offside and after 24 minutes, the skipper was inches wide from 25 yards after a bizarre sequence of events. Taricco was clattered by Valakari, referee Rennie blew his whistle but Poyet continued, passed to Sheringham who curled his shot in as Oakes stood motionless. Instead of calling play back, the referee just played on - the reaction if Sheringham had scored might have been different.
Taricco, always an outlet on the left, was on the end of the next move as Iversen beat the offside trap to latch onto Sherwood's pass, crossed deep and the wing-back met his header full but straight at Oakes.
Oakes was somewhat luckier to find the ball in his hands minutes later as Taricco nodded the ball back into the danger area and Leonhardsen, only four yards out, headed straight at the home keeper. Anywhere else and it would have been 1-0.
Sheringham flicked a header just over from Sherwood's free-kick after 37 minutes but having held firm through that period of pressure, Derby opened the scoring two minutes before the break.
A well-crafted goal it was as well as Valakari played a fine pass into Ravanelli, he held it up and fed Powell who fluffed his shot but it fell to Morris, who shot low through Sullivan and just over the line as Richards hacked clear. The big defender protested until the half-time whistle but replays suggested the officials made the right decision.
Matthew Etherington was introduced at half-time for Taricco as Glenn Hoddle pushed the wing-backs on.
But the home side again started the livlier and threatened without really carving out a clear-cut chance until Morris latched onto Christie's pass and forced Sullivan into action low to his left.
Our passing and possession had stuttered at this point so Anderton, rested after starting 26 games on the trot, came into the fray for Davies with 65 minutes on the clock.
The two substitutes combined after 71 minutes as Anderton spread the play well to Etherington and the youngster weaved his way into the box and squared to Poyet whose shot was charged down.
Rams threatened next as Higginbotham flicked on Zavagno's corner and Ravanelli was a fraction away from a clear hearer at goal.
Rebrov's arrival for Sherwood came as the last throw of the dice after 80 minutes but we still couldn't quite get a grip on the game as we had in that spell in the first half.
It wasn't until the final minute that we finally created the chances we'd been waiting for as Sheringham failed to connect with Etherington's cross with the goal at his mercy and then Poyet headed over well place. That just about summed it up - so near, yet so far.