West Brom 0-0 Derby: Baggies remain championship leader despite Wayne Rooney’s Rams holding back a draw
- West Bromwich Albion were held to a goalless draw at home to Derby County
- The Baggies had nine tries on target, while Derby had none
- Derby defended resiliently and goalkeeper Kelle Roos was excellent
Wayne Rooney was rarely used to scoreless draws at the height of his career, but Derby’s rough performance with championship leaders West Bromwich Albion will have been as satisfying as many of his finest moments as a player.
Led by veteran centre-backs Curtis Davies and Phil Jagielka, and with excellent goalkeeper Kelle Roos, the Rams withstood whatever Albion threw at them as Valerien Ismael’s side tied at home for the second time in four days after going 1-1. were detained by Millwall on Saturday.
Derby spent the summer under a transfer embargo and the threat of a 12-point deduction hangs over their heads for alleged breaches of financial regulations. A tough season is ahead, but Rooney has created a strong spirit in this team.
Karlan Grant (L) tries to impress for West Brom as he is chased by Dylan Williams and Lee Buchanan
Callum Robinson (L) from West Brom battles for possession with Nathan Byrne (R) from Derby
West Brom’s style this season is similar to Wimbledon in the 1980s and 1990s, or the Stoke teams under Tony Pulis, and they put Derby under constant air pressure here.
Rooney chose to match Albion’s 3-4-3 system with former Baggies defender Davies in the heart of a back three. The 36-year-old denied Albion a ninth-minute opener when he went off the line from Semi Ajayi after Derby fell asleep in a corner.
The home side then demanded a penalty when Callum Robinson tumbled under Nathan Byrne’s challenge, before Roos made an alert save to keep out a free kick from Darnell Furlong.
West Brom (3-4-3): John Stone 6; Ajayi 7, Bartley 6.5, Townsend 6.5; Furlong 6.5, Livermore 6 (Snodgrass 72, 6), Mowatt 6.5, Range 6.5; Diangana 7, Robinson 6 (Phillips 46, 7), Grant 5 (Hugill 46, 6).
Manager: Valerien Ismael 6.5
Derby (3-4-3): Rose 8.5; Jagielka 8, DAVIES 9, Buchanan 8; Byrne 7, Knight 7 (Bird 81), Shinnie 7.5, Williams 6.5; Jozwiak 6.5 (Lawrence 67, 6), Baldock 6 (Stretton 67, 6), Sibley 6.5.
Manager: Wayne Rooney 7
Furlong was a frequent threat at right-back as Albion sought him out at every opportunity and presented 18-year-old Dylan Williams with a difficult task during his full-length League debut. Still, Derby managed to limit Furlong’s main weapon – the long throw – before halftime.
Davies and one of his defensive partners, Jagielka, have a combined age of 75 and they made use of all their experience in the first 45 minutes, with Davies in particular producing some key interventions. For them, the central pair of Graeme Shinnie and again fit Jason Knight provided essential protection to keep Albion’s front three of Robinson, Grady Diangana and Karlan Grant relatively still.
Grant and Robinson paid the price at halftime when Albion boss Valerien Ismael sent Matt Phillips and Jordan Hugill to give his front three more physical presence.
They should have taken the lead in the 58th minute as Diangana raced to the left and sprinted away from Jagielka in the penalty area, only for Roos to save the low effort with his feet. The ball fell perfectly for the unmarked Furlong, who somehow lifted it over the unguarded goal from 15 yards.
Then it was Phillips’ turn to close just after the hour with a close-range strike that Davies and Lee Buchanan did an excellent job of blocking. At this stage Derby was being pushed further and further back and it seemed only a matter of time before Albion would count their pressure.
Phillips found himself frustrated again in the 67th minute when he shot high and wide from a promising position on the edge of the field. Shortly after, Adam Reach released Diangana and the sliding Phillips was a fraction of the time to convert his low cross.
Roos saved his best stop before stoppage time when Phillips received another cross from the left. Furlong arrived unmarked on the right and met it with a powerful header that Roos instinctively parried on his line.