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.

Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture