Football: Burton's success shows up shortcomings

Derby County 1 Blackburn Rovers 0

WHEN DOES a fledgling Premiership team become an established one? It was a question for Jim Smith to ponder after Deon Burton's late header had brought Brian Kidd's Blackburn honeymoon to an end. The answer, quite simply, is never.

Since winning promotion in 1996, Derby have finished 12th and ninth. They have been nobody's pushovers and have at times illuminated the top division with the quality of their football.

Saturday's victory revitalised Smith's hopes of improving on last season's 55 points and, perhaps, clinching the place in Europe that eluded them late in the campaign. However, such is the thin line between optimism and fear at the volatile top of the domestic game that he can no more expect to succeed than to feel safe from failure.

"Getting past 30 points is an important landmark," Smith said. Does that mean you can start looking upwards, someone asked. "It does now," Smith responded. "Last week we were looking over our shoulders."

Those backwards glances followed a nine-match sequence in which Derby had lost only twice but also won only twice, enough for them to tumble six places to 11th and give them only seven points more than Blackburn, who are perceived as relegation candidates. Had his side lost, Smith privately feared, the rot might have started to take hold.

It could have happened. In the closing minutes, Nathan Blake missed a header with which four times in five he would score. Moments later, a deep, hanging cross was headed across the Blackburn goal by Dean Sturridge for Burton, slipping between two defenders, to nod home his fifth goal in as many starts.

Burton has been grumbling to Smith that he needs an extended run of matches to show his true worth, rather than the odd glimpse of the talent that earned him a ticket to the World Cup finals with Jamaica. In truth, despite his goal, he did not look the answer to Derby's lack of a consistent scorer and may not hold his place when the suspended Paulo Wanchope returns.

It is this simple shortcoming that makes Derby's future uncertain; simple, but not easily remedied. When Wimbledon are driven to pay pounds 7.5m for an overweight, out-of-form John Hartson, it is not difficult to work out that strikers are in short supply. And there was more evidence right before Smith's eyes in the shape of Ashley Ward, whom Smith sold for pounds 1.3m 16 months ago but is now, according to the deal struck between Blackburn and Barnsley, worth pounds 4.5m.

But needs must. With Chris Sutton injured long-term, Kevin Gallagher slow to recover and Kevin Davies struck down again with the serious throat infection that laid him low before Christmas, Blackburn's forward rota is heavily depleted.

In the circumstances, it is probably not surprising that the players who stood out most at Pride Park were defenders, Stephane Henchoz and Callum Davidson in the visiting colours, Stefan Schnoor, Horacio Carbonari and the excellent Tony Dorigo for Derby.

At 33, Dorigo, the former England full-back rescued by Smith from Torino, might be considered a little long in the tooth to be chasing Premiership attackers, but here not only did he contain Keith Gillespie but also found time to deliver the cross for the winning goal.

Goal: Burton (84) 1-0.

Derby County (3-4-1-2): Poom; Prior, Carbonari, Schnoor; Eranio, Bohinen (Harper, 75), Carsley, Dorigo; Baiano (Kozluk, 84); Sturridge, Burton. Substitutes not used: Hoult (gk), Christie, Elliott.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Filan; Kenna, Henchoz, Broomes, Davidson; Gillespie, Sherwood, McKinlay, Wilcox; Ward, Blake. Substitutes not used: Peacock, Flowers (gk), Croft, Dunn, Duff.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).

Bookings: Derby: Baiano, Schnoor. McKinlay. Blackburn: Broomes, Kenna.

Man of the match: Dorigo.

Attendance: 27,386.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

Recruitment Genius: Fundraising Manager / Income Generation Coach

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A smart software company locate...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Account Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Busy, friendly and creative marketing ag...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - London - £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Wes...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project