TT TALKING POINTS – Derby County (a) by Matty Orton


Matty Orton – @MattyOrton1

Matty discusses the FA Cup replay


I’m lucky enough to have experienced quite a number of ‘away days’ at higher levels known to ours, and as I’m getting that bit older I’m starting to feel that not only am I getting on, but I’m also getting round a bit. Less away from Premier League glitz and glam, more like Ewood Park, Deepdale and Turf Moor on grim and grey afternoons and evenings – in a part of the country where football heritage and passions aren’t as few and far between as the more gentile areas of Devon.

But when the turnstile clicked in the away supporters gate at Pride Park on Tuesday night, the Yellow Army could have been mistaken for someone else doing the rounds in those larger Championship and League 1 grounds. Obviously it wasn’t, what it was, was a reminder that this stupid little football club of ours, rich in it’s history and footballing heritage, can walk into somewhere like Pride Park and be loud and proud not only before, but during and after the game.

The love for our club is as much as it ever was, there’s no doubt about it. And what that tells us is that sometimes we really do deserve better. There’s almost three full divisions of teams between us and Derby, and the support shown on Tuesday night was a reminder of who we are and where we have come from. Don’t think we couldn’t turn up to every ground in the land and not been seen or heard – because we could. Occasionally on those quieter Plainmoor days it’s something you sometimes worry about, that we’ve forgotten to ‘do football’ – we haven’t and Pride Park was proof of that. What an effort and what fanbase.  


I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that I think there is (almost) currently enough quality and conviction in this current side to pull us out of the mire. When a team is well and truly on for a destiny of doom, it’s a feeling of desperation, where you’re looking for anything, something. When really you know that every avenue has been explored, every formation has been tried, every ounce has been squeezed from the players, but ultimately, you just aren’t good enough.

This team on the other hand, keeps giving us rope to only pull us back in. When you feel we haven’t yet maxed out all of the above and you’re still left thinking, there is more to come from this team. There’s been enough evidence of that you feel, from fighting back from behind on more than one occasion to dismantling Aldershot at home, a truly ‘bad’ team isn’t capable of that.

However, we’re still coming up short of where we need to be and seeing the full potential of what this team can produce. The consistency, the leakiness, the lack of experience, perhaps just the lack of quality. The Derby experience wouldn’t have done these players any harm, perhaps it’s given some of the current squad a reality check, but that can be a positive. Used wisely and correctly, the money accrued from this cup run could be the last piece of shoring up that is needed for this side to finally pull us clear of where we don’t want to be. Time however is ultimately ticking.


Derby were a pleasure to watch last night. Max Hall was comfortably pulling strings amongst some very tidy and capable loan signings from Premier League clubs. Paul Warne wasn’t disrespectful in his approach, but it was the other side of the coin – the luxury of playing a full back in midfield, strength from the bench and conviction of not playing a full strength side but knowing you have enough in the tank to win the game, and win it comfortably. They were devastating on the transitions, their sharpness and thinking. Faster, stronger, better than us.

It’s not until you look at their league position, and realise that Argyle are 14 points better off than The Rams and have currently scored 14 more goals this season. As much as it hurts, Exeter are only are only 3 points adrift of Derby, despite also scoring more. It highlights how far we have drifted from our Devon neighbours and the gap that has recently opened up.

Things change quickly in football, the trajectories, the margins etc. Low ebbs and upwards curves sometimes meet, but we once again have a huge job on our hands to even get close to fulfilling our potential and have to once again accept ourselves as the smaller, poorer Devon relative.


Without going into a squad bashing, we are slowly seeing individual improvements and performances within the side. Shaun Donnellan is proof of that and in recent games has definitely shown signs of being able to step up his game. His new found role at right back appears to be a position where he looks comfortable playing. It’s what we want and need to see from a number of individuals.

Johnson has addressed that in an effort to be able to bring on some of the players in their own capabilities. It’s quite evident that needs to happen within the squad, but Shaun has shown that it’s possible and definitely deserves some recognition having done that. Let’s hope it continues.


Changes in systems sometimes work, but they aren’t simple. The switch to a 4-4-2 feels like we need an extra man in midfield. The pitch is looking and feeling never ending and the expectation to stick with Asa as a box-to-box player shouldn’t be relied upon too heavily. The defence is feeling dangerously exposed as big the expansions of space that can be exploited feel inevitably there for the taking.

Most teams play 3 in midfield these days and as I’m sure most are all for attacking football, but it feels like we will continually be exploited and leak goals. Because of this. 25 goals have been conceded in the last 8 games, something that needs addressing to say the least.








Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.