Having previously picked up a point at Birmingham and beaten Blackpool, Derby slipped up against a Watford side that recorded what was only its fourth ever win as visitors to The Rams.
Gareth Roberts absence due to illness was the only change from the Derby side that won in mid-week. Jason Shackell moved to left back and Jake Buxton was selected to play at centre half alongside Shaun Barker. After making a few cameo appearances from the subs bench so far this season, Buxton finally got a start.
As with many recent games, the Rams were caught napping early on and went behind early in the game. However, this time they were unable to produce their ‘get out of jail card.’
For the third game running, Paul Green was found wanting at right back, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise as he is a central midfielder. Alex Kacaniklic beat Green with ease and played the ball across to Sean Murray, who easily slotted the ball in from close range after just eight minutes. Seven minutes later, Troy Deeney made it 2-0 as his shot deflected in off Buxton.
The Rams finally woke up after the second goal, but their first half performance continued to be woeful, with a distinct lack of creativity in midfield.
Yet again it was a set piece that led to a Derby goal. Fifteen minutes after going two goals down, Ben Davies hit a monster of a free-kick from outside the box and into the top right hand corner. There was some debate as to whether Steve Davies got a touch on it, but his namesake Ben was credited with the goal.
Both the Davies’ have proved to be vital to the club in the past three games and hopefully the sight of Ben limping off in the second half was nothing more than a precautionary withdrawal by Nigel Clough.
Nathan Tyson was brought on to replace Tom Carroll after the break. Youngster Carroll was really finding the game tough going and many Derby fans questioned his inclusion at the expense of established players like James Bailey. The introduction of Tyson added some much needed pace and led to Derby’s best chance of getting level. Tyson crossed the ball in from the left and found Theo Robinson, but his effort was deflected over the bar by a defensive block.
Some might argue that Derby were worth a point, but overall the performance against a very ordinary Watford side was very poor. That said, Jake Buxton was the one shining light on a disappointing afternoon. A much improved performance will be needed on Tuesday if Derby are to beat their rivals from across “Brian Clough Way.”
Derby: Fielding, Green, Barker, Buxton, Shackell, Bryson, Hendrick (Bailey 89), Carroll (Tyson 45), B Davies (Ball 76), Robinson, S Davies. Unused subs: Legzdins, Naylor.
Watford – Kuszczak, Doyley, Mariappa, Nosworthy, Dickinson, Murray (Buaban 81), Eustace, Hogg, Kacaniklic, Garner (Iwelumo 63), Deeney (Taylor 90). Unused subs: Loach, Trotta.
Man of the match – Jake Buxton
Attendance – 23,140 (633 away fans)