It took just two minutes for Nottingham Forest to dent Derby County’s promotion hopes and set them on the path for yet another disappointing season in the Championship, despite significant personnel change.
Yohan Benalouane was the man to open the scoring after Forest capitalised on some poor defending from Jaden Bogle. Joe Lolley’s swinging free-kick met the head of Daryl Murphy, who did well to nod it back into the danger area for Benalouane to tap in from close-range.
Derby, who have been struggling with form recently, failed to create any meaningful chances in the first 45 minutes. Martyn Waghorn had half a chance to draw his team level after 14 minutes when Derby’s Duane Holmes slipped, but his effort sailed wide of Costel Pantilimon’s goal.
The hosts certainly looked the more likely of the two teams. Another defensive mistake from Derby, this time Fikayo Tomori at fault, presented Lolley with an opportunity to set through Murphy who was through on goal but was let down by his touch.
The game really was quite uneventful after that.
Tom Huddlestone was brought on by Lampard as he attempted to inject a bit of life into Derby’s play, but the big midfielder barely made a difference to proceedings.
Nottingham Forest won their first derby since 2015 and it seems the Martin O’Neill era is clicking into gear.
Tireless work from Jack Colback in centre-midfield deservedly saw him collect the Man of the Match award, but we believe some credit should also be given to Joe Lolley.
In a game of relatively few chances, Lolley – valued at just £450k by Transfermarkt – shone as one of the few danger men on the pitch and almost had his hand in creating two goals.
Experience wasn’t enough to help veteran defender Ashley Cole keep tabs on Lolley who made the former England defender look average all night. The future is very bright for Lolley and he approaches his prime, that much is clear.