Football: Powell's rare strike provides lift for Smith

Leicester City 0

Derby County 1

Powell 69

Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 18,581

JIM SMITH has been in football so long, and with so many clubs, that after three decades as a manager he should be forgiven for any kind of cynicism. But he is anything but cynical and his delight and enthusiasm, both undimmed by the years, were manifestly apparent at Filbert Street yesterday where his struggling Derby ended a run of five defeats with a scrappy victory.

A solitary, but extraordinary, second-half goal from Darryl Powell, looped in out of the blue through a mass of bodies in the goalmouth from 45 yards, settled the outcome, consigned Leicester to a second successive home defeat in the Premiership and fourth game without a goal, but did not camouflage the fact that this was a contest devoid of quality and entertainment.

"I thought the goal was great," beamed Smith, tongue firmly in his cheek. "Obviously it was vital for us. We knew we had to battle, tackle and block everything here and my players did all of that and more. Now we have to play every game that way if we are to climb out of the bottom three." His joy in seeing his team, assembled from discounted imports and promising journeymen, regain a semblance of form after last week's humiliating home defeat by Burnley in the FA Cup was plain to see.

Equally obviously, he chose a team intended to survive rather than touch the heights, leaving Georgi Kinkladze on the bench alongside his new pounds 3m Belgian international, Branko Strupar. The latter made a brief, late cameo once the game was won.

Smith, one of football's travelling Mr Fix-Its, admitted he has a soft spot for Derby, where his four years in charge represent his longest spell as a manager. "I have to admit I feel very differently and specially about the Derby club and its people," he said. "I don't suppose I'd have been here this long otherwise." Given his striking problems, due to injury and falsified passports, it was encouraging to see him as sane and amusing as ever.

His Leicester counterpart, Martin O'Neill, was equally honest. Three days after seeing his team beat Leeds United, albeit on penalties, he admitted: "We were very poor. There was not much entertainment at all and I send my apologies all round to everyone who sat through it."

He admitted injuries, particularly to influential midfielders Neil Lennon and Steve Guppy, had weakened his team, but did not offer excuses. "We all enjoy playing in the Premiership so we shouldn't moan when a few setbacks like this come along."

O'Neill's summary was accurate. As a spectacle, this fixture should have carried a health warning. There were 24 fouls in the first half alone. And, on one of his fussier days, David Elleray brandished his yellow card six times. Anyone hoping to enjoy a full-blooded Midlands derby replete with passion and skill was desperately disappointed.

Derby understandably lacked confidence. Leicester, even with the pounds 3m new boy Darren Eadie, seemed frozen by fatigue after their midweek exertions and mounting speculation over the manager's position in the build-up to an Extraordinary General Meeting of the shareholders at Donington Park on Wednesday.

O'Neill said it was probably "a very important week" for him which, given his Irish gift for understatement, represented a truism. If the so-called gang of four succeed in overthrowing the chairman, John Elsom, it could signal his departure.

O'Neill suggested last night that the votes were going in favour of the present regime. "We won't know anything properly until Wednesday," he said. "But unless he's giving me a bum steer, it's looking good."

It was not quite the welcome diversion he wanted from seeing his team slide to defeat on a day when they did little right and Smith left celebrating his team's first win since beating Chelsea at home on 30 October.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?