Derby County 1-0 Blackpool: Plange debut goal enough for Rams to best timid-Tangerines
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A goal from 19-year-old Luke Plange on his full debut was enough to see Derby County past Blackpool in a largely uneventful 1-0 victory at Pride Park.

The result ended a three-game winless run for Wayne Rooney's side and extended their opponents streak without a win to seven games.

Neil Critchley's men were largely uninspiring going forward for most of the game, as Derby's switch to a back-three worked superbly to secure the home side a well-earned clean sheet.

  • Story of the game

Some powerful running with the ball from Shayne Lavery created the first opening of the game for Blackpool, as the forward drove into the box from the left and cut the ball back for the late-arriving Ryan Wintle whose shot was blocked well by Graeme Shinnie.

Derby then had a chance of their own as Max Bird delivered a floated free-kick into the area for Curtis Davies to head back across the goal. The ball fell nicely for the skipper Tom Lawrence to shoot – a sliding Callum Connolly blocked his shot – and despite loud calls for handball, the referee was unmoved.

Rooney deployed his Rams in a three-back shape with Kamil Jozwiak and youngster Dylan Williams operating as wing-backs in attack and then retreating to form a back five out of possession.

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The shape seemed to work well in the early exchanges, with the wing-backs finding space for crosses on either wing, but the final ball in most instances lacked the precision to create chances.

The visitors had to work hard to create their openings, which were few and far between in the opening half an hour, the best chance outside the early opportunity for Wintle falling for Lavery, who cut inside from the right and curled a shot just wide of the opposite post.

Both sides struggled to put together cohesive attacks to trouble either goalkeeper in a stop-start first half marred by niggly fouls as both teams seemed content to keep the game at a manageable pace.

Former Rams skipper Richard Keogh received a mixed response from the Derby faithful as he came on at half-time for the visitors, with audible boos coming from around the ground with his first few touches of the ball.

In what would have been a frustrating start to his full debut, Luke Plange had little to no service in the first period, but he looked lively throughout, and his persistence paid off early on after the interval.

The young forward showed great anticipation to score an easy tap-in as he followed up a saved Jozwiak effort after Lawrence had cut the ball back to the Polish international from the byline.

Derby deserved the game's first goal for the way they came out at half-time, showing a greater willingness to win the second ball and still playing like a team with belief despite the unforeseen circumstances they have faced off-the-field.

Blackpool, who, like their opponents, have struggled to score goals this season, were just as poor offensively in the second period as they were in the first, with Lavery and Keshi Anderson's touches in the final third limited with the Tangerines lacking an outlet up top.

Rooney's side passed the ball with much more zip in the attacking third, which ultimately led to the goal and meant they controlled the possession of the ball for the majority of the second-half.

Joint-top goalscorer Jerry Yates came on late in the game for Critchley's men as they pushed for an equaliser, but their forward play was slow and laboured - Derby had no issues seeing out the three points.

  • Man of the match

Curtis Davies

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There is a reason the 36-year-old has played every minute in the league for Derby this season, and he put in another solid display at the centre of a back-three in this game.

With three completed tackles and three out of four aerial duels won in the game, the defender fulfilled his role superbly as his side limited Blackpool to very little in an attacking sense to claim a well-deserved clean sheet.