Derby v Bolton U21’s – Post Match Bullets
Since it was first announced that this year’s U-21 games were to be split between Moor Farm, the Ipro and Impact Arena, it was always my intention to attend a good splattering of these fixtures.
It’s taken a little longer than I’d hoped to get off the mark, but tonight I attended my first one, taking in a 1-1 draw against Bolton at the Impact Arena. Here’s my thoughts.
- Notable absentees for Derby were key men Ivan Calero and Kwame Thomas (who was at the game in civvies). Notable Inclusions for Bolton were senior pro’s David Wheater, Liam Trotter (both returning from injury according to “Seth Bolton” sat next to me) and ex Crewe /football manager favourite Max Clayton.
- Both sides first team management team were in attendance with Neil Lennon and Gary Parker representing Bolton and Eric and Steve representing Derby. Presumably Simmo was looking after the boys in London. I also saw Mark Robins and innumerable well dressed, middle aged men with familiar faces shaking hands with each other.
- The game itself was no classic with lots of energy and few openings. Bolton took the lead in the second half with a glorious free kick from Clayton, with the Rams equalising with a Bennett penalty after some good work from Zanzala and Koblenz. Overall Bolton probably edged proceedings due mainly to Trotter bossing midfield. However when he ran out of steam and Koblenz came more to the fore, the Rams could have nicked it.
- Many regulars commented that the Rams badly missed Calero and they certainly struggled to achieve any flow. The majority of the best moments came from Santos who’s desire to get on the ball and go at his man was particularly impressive in the first half. He looks a player to me.
- Bunjaku was largely anonymous but ex Hoffenheim man Tom Koblenz is one to keep an eye on. A very intelligent player, with a great left foot who was still going strong when pretty much every other midfielder on both teams had ran out of gas.
- With Thomas’s absence, Shaq McDonald started up front. When you talk about short stocky players, this guy is unbelievable. Not a lot over 5ft but barrel chested, he cut a strange figure next to Wheater and found it tough to hold the ball. He also missed a golden chance 1 on 1 when Bolton fluffed a throw in back to their keeper. He is lightening quick and did spread the play well a couple of times but Derby immediately carried a bigger threat when he was replaced by young Zanzala.
- A new name to me was Rams right back Luke Hendrie, son of ex Bradford and Boro man John Hendrie (who was at the game too). He was decent but was subbed for his own good after taking Clayton out when already on a booking.
- I’ve written before how much I like Rawson and Hanson as a centre half partnership and they were again impressive. I must say though that Rawson in particular gets better every time I see him and can’t be far off some form of age appropriate England recognition.
Overall a very enjoyable evening and absolutely great to be so close to the action and the players. If you like the annual Youth cup games at the Ipro, I would heartily recommend these U21 games to you.