• Albion 3 - 0 Derby County, 10.03.2017

    With the good ship Albion steadied by the professional win at rock-bottom Rotherham midweek, it was back to the Amex with a sense of calm confidence restored. Derby County the visitors - a team packed with star names, but on a wretched run of form.

    The Albion unchanged, bar Murray for Hemed - standard Hughton 4-4-2, with last season's go-to midfield pairing of Dale Stephens and Beram Kayal in the centre, and Jiri Skalak preferred on the left over the decent claims of March and Murphy.

    Steve McClaren's Rams set-up, rather less standard. Steve had either reached pure desperation levels in his efforts to boost his side's woeful scoring record, or he'd found a left-over stash of the good stuff, from his time in Holland. Tasked with fitting Vydra, Bent, Ince and Nugent into something resembling a team, Steve decided to play them all up front. Kind of like running a Sunday League team, when if you're lucky enough to have more than 11 show up, you'd always just pick the best eleven players, and THEN worry about where to play them.

    In theory at least, Vydra was deployed on the left, Ince on the right. Neither did much to assist the lightweight central pair of Butterfield and de Sart, leaving a straight 2 v 2 battle in the middle - the kind of battle Kayal and Stephens inevitably win, hands down.

    Had Derby nicked an early lead, perhaps things might have worked out, but it was, in truth, a wretched team set-up, doomed to failure. In stark contrast, the Albion were on it from the first minute – Skalak bringing the Amex to its collective feet just moments in – firing just wide after a darting run. They needn’t have sat down. Two minutes later, (yet another) moment of genius from Anthony Knockaert. ‘Le Petit Magicien’ was second favourite to reach Bruno’s short pass, but dazzled past de Sart in the blink of an eye, before crashing a low drive an inch inside Scott Carson’s near post. Absolutely magnificent.

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