Boss delighted with players' character in a battling win
NIGEL Clough praised the character shown by his Derby County team after a battling 3-2 victory over Birmingham City.
Conor Sammon's double twice put Derby in front, only for Birmingham to hit back with equalisers from Marlon King, a penalty, and substitute Peter Lovenkrands.
But Nathan Tyson, on for Theo Robinson, popped up with a winner six minutes from time to secure three points and push the Rams back into the top half of the Championship.
They are now 12th, three points adrift of the top six.
Looking back at the win, Clough said: "It's about character, determination and it's also honesty as much as anything from the players.
"Their honesty is incredible.
"The lads never give up. They keep going and keep trying to do the right things."
Derby led 1-0 at the break.
"I thought we controlled it in the first half," said Clough. "We didn't want half-time to come because it gave Birmingham a chance to get organised a little and I am sure Lee (Clark) said a few words to them at half-time and the game changed in that period.
"I don't think we did anything different, it's just that they stepped it up in the second half.
"We were pretty comfortable at 1-0. They had the ball but they were not creating much.
"We also had chances to score a second. Theo (Robinson) had the best chance. If he had put that in, it would have settled us down. I thought the miss encouraged them at that point and they went and got the equaliser."
Birmingham's first goal came from a penalty awarded for a foul by Richard Keogh on substitute Rob Hall.
"It was a soft penalty but those little things seem to be going against us at the moment," said Clough.
"We are not sure it was a penalty. When you look at the foul on Paul Coutts at Millwall a couple of weeks ago, we have been having shouts like that – and better than that – and not getting them."
Clough was delighted with the quality of Derby's winning goal after 84 minutes.
"It was as good as anything. It was a brilliant goal," said the manager.
"It came from the right, was worked to the left and finished off with a tap-in inside the six-yard box."
Derby have won their last three games at Pride Park and have lost only one of nine home matches in the League this season.
Clough says the home form is filling the players with confidence.
"We didn't get anything in the last couple of matches on the road and so it is important we keep winning our home games," added Clough.
"It will be another tough one on Tuesday when the league leaders, Cardiff, come to town."