Derby County vs West Brom result: Frank Lampard’s Rams secure Championship play-off spot

Derby County 3-1 West Brom: Victory over the Baggies ensured Derby held off Middlesbrough to sixth place to keep alive hopes of promotion to the Premier League

Matt Murphy
Pride Park
Sunday 05 May 2019 15:01
Derby are into the play-offs where they'll face Leeds
Derby are into the play-offs where they'll face Leeds

Frank Lampard turned to the home fans, a fist raised in the air. Mission completed. Derby County were adding at least two more fixtures to their season. After a battle against West Brom on the final day, one that was far less meaningful for the visitors, a late fight ensured them a 3-1 win, and a place in the Championship play-offs.

It hadn’t all come so easy, though. With pressure piling on the Rams throughout the game, a second-half equaliser from Albion almost handed a killer blow to their hopes. With Middlesbrough winning comfortably at Rotherham, only a victory would guarantee them sixth place. But when push came to shove, Derby had fuel in the tank needed to close out the game.

Bear in mind this pressure could all have been avoided. Derby had an extra fixture midweek with Swansea that would’ve all but confirmed that spot, but a draw dragged their fight to the final game.

It took less than 20 minutes for Derby to open the scoring at Pride Park. Jayden Bogle, who was impressive roaming down the right-hand side, put a sterling first-touch cross over for Martyn Waghorn to nod into the far corner, the crowd erupting.

Though the Derby defence – including an imperiously composed Fiko Tomori, their player of the season – kept things tight throughout most of the game, West Brom were handed two vital chances to begin with. Jay Rodriguez flicked on to Jacob Murphy in the box, the striker pulling his shot across goal. A second could’ve levelled the scores later on as Murphy drove a low cross in only for Dwight Gale to miss in similar fashion, this time just a couple of yards out.

This was a performance for James Shan's side to quickly forget. Though they'd won three of their last four, and their play-off place confirmed back in April, the quality here dwindled throughout the second half. They were also handed extra blow in the dying minutes, as substitute Hal Robson Kanu saw red for needlessly kicking out at Bradley Johnson in stoppage time. The resulting ban could now agonisingly keep him out of their battle for promotion.

Wilson's penalty secured sixth spot and a place in the play-offs 

Lampard had been anxiously pacing the touchline for most of the game, staring at the floor, hands in pockets, like a father awaiting the confirmation of his new-born child. Indeed, his fledgling managerial career has been a relentlessly testing one so far, in the mix at the top of an unpredictable and thrilling Championship season. He would need to survive another bump in the road yet.

As the second half began, West Brom struck. Jay Rodriguez curled a pass over for Stefan Johansen, who was given time to fire in from the edge of the box. It was a dagger to the hearts of already on-edge Derby fans – many of whom could be seen reaching quickly for their phones to work out if a draw would still be enough.

With an injury to Martyn Waghorn already dragging the goalscorer off in the first half, they would need replacement David Nugent to use his experience up top. The forward often dropped deeper into clever pockets of space to link play, but what mattered was obviously whether Nugent could find the net. He should’ve put Derby back in front not long after the equaliser, but his sliding effort met the legs of Sam Johnstone.

With twenty minutes to go, this is where it would get real for Derby. This game posed the question of whether they could hold their nerve, as the sand was fast slipping through the hourglass on their season. But they were still producing slick attacking football, and it did deserve the goals that came.

Lampard has enjoyed a successful first season in charge 

It was substitute Mason Bennett who edged forward as West Brom failed to clear from an attack. Tom Lawrence should’ve buried his chance moments before, but the ricocheting rebound fell for Bennett, who needed just a touch of his outstretched boot to tip it in. The forward peeled off his shirt as he wheeled away in celebration.

With the tension alleviated slightly, Derby went for the kill, adding their second three minutes later. The visitors had eased off in the latter stages, and the Rams were now firing on all cylinders. Lawrence made a weaving run into the box and could’ve rounded off the third, but he was brought down by Bartley in the box. It was an arguably dubious penalty. Harry Wilson tucked the penalty in, and Derby were bouncing – the fans literally, now – into the play-offs. Leeds United await.

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