Derby County – Match Report vs Barnsley 02/01/20

Derby overcame Barnsley 2-1 in this midweek game and were good value for their win. In truth the scoreline flattered Barnsley, with Jack Marriott missing two clear-cut chances in a first-half that Derby completely controlled. They lined up in a 4-1-3-2 formation with Max Bird sitting in front of the back four, giving license for Wayne Rooney to push forward with Duane Holmes and Jason Knight supporting either side.

A1 – Very good player, could play higher
A2 – Strong potential to play higher
B1 – Good, strong player at level
B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
C – Average for the level, rewatch
D – Below average don’t follow up

Matt Clarke

Player Profile:

Nationality: English
Age: 23
DOB: 22/09/1996
Current Club: Derby County, on loan from Brighton
Career: Ipswich, Portsmouth, Brighton, Derby County (L)
Position: Centre Half
Preferred foot: Left

Matt Clarke was imperious at the back for Derby and barely looked troubled whilst performing his defensive duties. He is a physically imposing, well-built defender who is excellent in the air and has good technical ability with the ball at his feet. He looked every bit as experienced as Curtis Davies next to him and was unlucky not to score when his second-half header was tipped on to the post.

Barnsley did not threaten often offensively but, on the rare occasion they did, Clarke was able to deal with it comfortably, showing good anticipation to make several key interceptions and tackles. His large 6′ frame was a mismatch against 5’9 Barnsley striker Patrick Schmidt and he was able to dominantly win headers when Barnsley looked to go long. He commanded his box well, strong in the tackle and positionally aware as Barnsley looked to cross from wide positions.

He also impressed in possession, showing good footwork on a number of occasions to avoid pressure and give himself more time on the ball to find the right pass. He looked calm and comfortable receiving the ball, able to progress it into the midfield or play a long pass to the opposite flank. His ability to take on and get the better of an opponent is a skill rare to find in a central defender.

Rating: A1

Clarke will return to parent club Brighton in the summer and I think he would be a great fit in Graham Potter’s 3-4-3 system next season. His ball-playing ability makes him well suited to the Premier League and his season of Championship football will have improved his physicality to make him a defender ready for the top tier.

Max Bird

Player Profile:

Nationality: English
Age: 19
DOB: 18/09/00
Current Club: Derby County
Career: Derby County
Position: Defensive Midfield
Preferred foot: Left

Bird played a key role for Derby, protecting the back four and breaking up the play with a number of important touches and interceptions. His defensive capabilities allowed Wayne Rooney to get on the ball and pull the strings in the middle of the park. He covered a lot of ground to make it difficult for Barnsley to find any kind of rhythm going forward, stopping attacks before they had the chance to develop.

Bird showed a variety of ball-winning techniques, using his body well to get between the ball and the attacker, timing his slide-tackles well or getting a foot in to dispossess his opponent. Derby’s formation left him with a lot of responsibility as failing to win possession would leave the defence exposed but, for the most part, he was successful in winning his duels. However, at times his disciplined slipped when finding himself high up the pitch having joined an attack.

He was not required to showcase his passing ability with Rooney next to him but he was effective in keeping the play moving with short, simple passes and rarely gave away possession. His delivery from corners was impressive, particularly his in-swinging deliveries from the right side which caused problems for the Barnsley defence.

Rating: A1

Strong defensively and solid in possession, at just 19 he will continue to develop both the mental and physical parts of his game. Bird has the qualities to progress to a higher level and plans for a reunion with Frank Lampard at Chelsea are reportedly already being discussed.

Max Lowe

Player Profile:

Nationality: English
Age: 22
DOB: 11/05/97
Current Club: Derby County
Career: Derby County, Shrewsbury (L), Aberdeen (L)
Position: Left Back
Preferred foot: Left

Lowe was awarded Man of the Match and fully merited the decision. He showed great skill and confidence with the ball at his feet on multiple occasions and put in a solid defensive performance. His balance and agility allowed him to make multiple successful dribbles out from defence and he showcased good passing ability when looking to switch the play.

His ability to beat players in possession is commendable but there were times where his decision making could have been better. He had opportunities to move the ball forward sooner and instead held onto the ball for too long, allowing Barnsley players to block passing lanes. However, as mentioned, his passing was good and his delivery into the box was effective when venturing forward and picking up good crossing positions.

At 5’7 with a sleight build he is not a very physical player and needs to work on defending 1v1 and getting tighter to his man to stop crosses coming into the box. However, what he lacks in physicality he makes up for in athleticism, allowing him to rise high and win headers whilst also covering ground quickly to make a number of important blocks. One block in particular towards the end of the first half may have saved a goal and contributed to a very impressive overall display.

Rating: A2

On the basis of this display, Lowe could quite conceivably make the step up to a bottom half Premier League side. If that were to happen he would need to work on his defensive qualities, in particular strength and positioning, but his ability going forward is already of a very high level.

Jason Knight

Player Profile:

Nationality: Irish
Age: 18
DOB: 13/02/01
Current Club: Derby County
Career: Cabinteely (Y), Derby County
Position: Central midfield
Secondary Position: Winger
Preferred foot: Right

Knight had a good game playing wide on the left side of midfield. His standout qualities were his pace and his work-rate and he did not look fazed by the considerable physical challenge posed by Bambo Diaby in the Barnsley defence. He was confident with the ball at his feet and showed good dribbling ability and agility but, on a few occasions, he gave away possession cheaply with loose passes and his final ball was lacking.

Knight struggled to get on the ball enough to influence the game, with Derby looking to play passes in behind for the strike pair to run onto and Duane Holmes providing the main creative outlet in the final third. However, he ran the channels well and was constantly providing an option out wide to support the attack.

He also supported the defence well, tracking back and showing great strength and tenacity in the tackle. He moved over to the right side midway through the second half and was effective in providing defensive relief when using his pace and energy to drive Derby forward as they looked to defend their lead.

Rating: B1

Undoubtedly a a very talented player who brings a lot to this Derby team and can cause problems for any defence. Would like to watch him in a match where he is more involved throughout but saw enough from the 18-year-old to suggest he is already a strong performer at this level.

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