I’m still finding it difficult to get too worked up for this fixture, which is a worry. There’s the usual rabble-rousing and flagrantly biased cock-waving going on in both Derby and Forest online communities that generally precedes matches between us - but well, much like back in February when the snow put paid to the scheduled date for the fixture it’s a bit difficult to muster much excitement. However – we are on much better form now than we were then.
Both sides of course come off the back of home games at the weekend – we got a morale-boosting-even-if-a-bit-fortunate 3-1 win against Millwall whilst the Rams lost 2-1 at the hands of Watford. Doncaster aside, we’ve had a few decent results lately, whilst Derby are sitting lowly in the form table with poor recent performances. Not that the form book generally has much say in this fixture typically.
With a welcome win against the Lions we have elevated ourselves to five points clear of the drop zone – tempting me to look at this game more as the game in hand it is. Derby are in a reasonably comfortable lower-mid-table position so are not as desperate for points as we are – but Nigel Clough and co will be rather eager to notch a catalyst to revive their ailing form. He will, of course, have his eyes on the first league double Derby have managed over Forest since his dad was in charge at the Baseball Ground.
On the team front Steve Cotterill is waiting on confirmation over the availability for Elokobi and Anderson who were both missing at the weekend having picked up injuries during and in the warm-up-to the Doncaster game respectively. Whilst means the longer-term and suspicious injuries are those that remain – which means, so far, there’s no excuse for an outlandish square-pegs-round-holes formation.
Derby have a few niggles – Gareth Roberts missed their weekend defeat through illness although is likely to be fit to return, whilst Shackell has been carrying a hamstring injury that he’s been playing through. Jamie Ward has been out too with a thigh injury, although they do have the ‘boost’ that glass-man Nathan Tyson is apparently fit to face his former club.
From a Forest point of view – and indeed, from Derby’s point of view – it’s all about the start, Derby have started games badly of late and given themselves a difficult job to come back into games – much like us, remember the Donny home game? Ultimately this is a game between two mediocre-at-best sides which will probably be decided by a fairly slim margin – fingers-crossed that fortune will favour the Reds.
With a tough few games coming up in the shape of trips to Leeds and Leicester as well as the not inconsiderable visit of Brighton to the City Ground then this fixture represents the ‘on paper’ best opportunity for acquisition of points. So maybe trying to write it off as a bit of a bonus game in hand is probably not quite right – and no matter how necessary points may or may not be the bragging rights are important.
I’m lucky enough to work with a number of Derby fans – it’s fair to say that they tend to be less magnanimous in victory than I am (and it’s more of a novelty for me, too!), so if karma is at play in this encounter then it should surely lend a fated hand to the Reds. This is an age of austerity afterall, a Forest win wouldn’t see reams of paper and printer ink being wasted in petty small-town decorations adorning desks around my office.
It certainly wouldn’t result in the carbon footprint of a small aircraft being chartered in a few months time. Mind you, if we arranged a similar stunt of a ‘months after the event’ reminder then we’d be in the middle of summer before the visible-if-you-squint banner was flying over an empty Pride Park. I can’t call this one – Derby have to be the favourites by virtue of being the home team – let’s hope Reidy plays and has magic in his boots again, he was the difference between us and Millwall on Saturday.
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