Commons touch helps Clough settle an old score

Leeds United 1 Derby County 2: Derby manager says victory is vindication for Leeds groundstaff stopping his son from walking on pitch

In a tussle replete with historical sub-plots, most of them surrounding the Clough dynasty, Derby last night achieved what no club had managed in 21 years when they ruined Leeds's unbeaten record on the opening day of a new season that stretched back to a 5-2 thumping at Newcastle in 1989.

The result, after a rousing end-to-end contest which the Leeds manager, Simon Grayson, justifiably noted could have brought a win, draw or defeat for his newly promoted side, was extremely gratifying for Nigel Clough. Following in the daunting footsteps of his father Brian as Derby's manager, he claimed afterwards that the Leeds groundstaff had prevented his "little lad", 12-year-old William, from joining him in the pre-match stroll on to the pitch 75 minutes before kick-off.

"They said it was against club rules," Clough Jnr said, suggesting it was there, rather than any revenge for how his father was treated during his 44 days as Leeds manager, where the vindication lay. "I get more pleasure from that than something which happened 36 years ago."

Clough added: "It was encouraging, especially in the first half when we got the ball down and played. Without giving a silly goal away we could have made it more comfortable for ourselves. Kasper Schmeichel made some superb saves – even in the six-yard box he was stopping them – but we've been a little concerned about the number of chances we create away from home, so it was pleasing, though we have to put them away."

Grayson's disappointment was evident in his opening remark – "It was very entertaining, I suppose" – but the manager was not unduly downcast. He knows Howard Wilkinson's team recovered from that drubbing on Tyneside to win the Second Division, and that with 45 games to go it is too soon to read anything into results.

"It was always going to be tough for us because Derby have got some decent players," Grayson added, "but we probably played more with our hearts than our heads. Kasper made some decent saves but we hit the bar twice and had one kicked off the line, so it could have gone either way."

Derby, who struck first through the ex-Leeds striker Rob Hulse, did not allow Luciano Becchio's swift riposte for Leeds to disturb their greater fluency. After the game's outstanding performer, Kris Commons, had restored their advantage from the penalty spot, they showed their mettle to resist a strong home fightback. At the same time they ensured that Schmeichel, son of Peter and freshly arrived from Notts County, had ample opportunity to impress with some stunning saves. His father would have been proud to claim the double stop in the closing stages from Shaun Barker and Hulse.

Brian Clough encountered resentment over his desired radical changes in personnel, among other things at Elland Road, which lent a touch of irony to the fact that Leeds included eight of Grayson's nine new signings in their 18. When they hugged and high-fived before the start one wondered whether they might also be reminding one another of their names.

A lack of familiarity appeared evident in Leeds's early defending. Commons seemed to have the run of midfield, carving through for a shot which flashed over. When Paul Green made a similar incursion, Leeds again backed off hesitantly. Hulse timed his supporting run to perfection and produced an angled finish to match.

However, Leeds were level inside three minutes. Jonathan Howson burst through the Derby ranks in similar style to Green and was equally selfless in feeding the ball inside for Becchio to sidefoot home. Richard Naylor, with a close-range volley, and Neil Kilkenny, from a header following a free-kick, both struck Derby's goal-frame.

But sandwiched in between came a second Derby goal, Commons deftly converting a 27th-minute penalty after Lloyd Sam had cut down Tomasz Cywak. As half-time loomed, Commons set up Green for a shot which Schmeichel kept out with a fine reflex save, while the keeper also denied Commons at point-blank range.

Robbie Savage, who was due to dash straight to a BBC microphone to co-host a phone-in after the match, attracted a booking of a different kind after a two-footed challenge on Federico Bessone.

As the sunshine of the first half gave way to lashing rain, the Derby contingent chanted: "Brian Clough's a football genius". The son he used to call simply "The No 9" at Nottingham Forest has yet to earn the right to such an epithet, but this was another step in the right direction.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
News
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session
peopleBizarre TV claim
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit