Derby County: Stephen Bywater, Tyrone Mears, Dean Leacock, Claude Davis, Andy Griffin, Gary Teale, Stephen Pearson, Eddie Lewis, Kenny Miller, Steve Howard, Matt Oakley
Subs: Jay McEveley, David Jones, Robert Earnshaw, Andy Todd, Benny Feilhaber
Newcastle: Steve Harper, Steven Taylor, Cacapa, David Rozehnal, Charles N’Zogbia, Alan Smith, Nicky Butt, Geremi, James MIlner, Shola Ameobi, Michael Owen
Subs: Habib Beye, Abdoulaye Faye, Oba Martins, Matty Pattison, Shay Given
Referee: Peter Walton
The game started very slowly and the initial exchanges were very start stop. After 11 minutes N’Zogbia got a shot in for Newcastle but it was way over the bar.
Newcastle were not looking too good in the opening exchanges and it was obvious that Derby were going to give their all in this game – and were starting to win the 50-50 balls. But after 18 minutes Newcastle should have been ahead when a Milner run picked out Owen on the left of the penalty area and Michael gets it back across goal only for Rozehnal to hit it wide in front of an open goal. It was harder to miss than score. Newcastle should have scored.
In the early exchanges Eddie Lewis on the left wing is giving Steven Taylor some trouble wit6h his speed. The game is very start stop in the first 30 minutes and Newcastle are looking lethargic – they need to wake up.
A couple of times Derby County are getting through on the Newcastle defense who are backing off too much. After 27 minutes Miller is allowed to progress too far and should have done better as his shot is blocked.
Then after 39 minutes Derby get a sloppy goal. Newcastle had been pushing at the other end at a corner but the ball went out of play for a Derby free kick. Goalkeeper Bywater sent a long free kick into the Newcastle half and from 35 yards out, with no challenge from either of Newcastle’s center-backs, Kenny Miller, making his debut from Celtic, hits a wonderful shot into the top corner and over Harper’s head. A good goal for Derby but a poor one to concede for Newcastle.
Questions have to be asked if Cacapa, Rozehnal and Harper were fully awake. It didn’t look like it. The worrying thing is Newcastle look very lethargic against a poor Derby team. They should get a rollicking at half time from Sam – and this is why you have a big squad. Some of the Newcastle players don’t seem to have turned up for the match and it’s deja vu all over again.
The defense doesn’t look as sharp as it’s been in the past with Cacapa and Rozehnal looking too hesitant at times.
The first half is reminiscent of Newcastle of old – not good – and they will need to improve significantly in the second half to get anything out of this game.