Jacobs responds to play key role in Pride Park win for Derby County
MICHAEL Jacobs provided the perfect response to being left out of the Derby County team by playing a key role in the 3-1 victory over promotion-chasing Middlesbrough.
Jacobs was dropped to the bench for Saturday's 1-1 draw with Charlton Athletic after enduring a frustrating afternoon at Burnley on Boxing Day.
But the summer signing from Northampton Town was recalled to face Boro at Pride Park Stadium yesterday.
The 21-year-old opened the scoring for the Rams and was named man of the match.
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"The gaffer told me that I got into some great positions at Burnley and didn't really make the most of them," said Jacobs.
"I should have created a bit more from those situations but I'll learn from that.
"He has given me constructive criticism and I'll take that on board.
"The manager has to rotate the team over Christmas because there are so many matches but it was nice to be back in there.
"I felt like I had to produce a response after being left out at Charlton."
Jacobs, a winger by trade, was deployed as a second striker alongside front man Conor Sammon against Boro.
"Sammo wins a lot in the air and the manager just told me to buzz around him and try to pick up a few second balls and make things tick," he explained.
"It was nice to get in that role because the centre-halves didn't really want to come out and pick me up, so it allowed me a little bit of space to try to affect the game.
"I was given a free licence, really.
"Obviously, I had to work hard when we didn't have the ball, shutting people down and making it hard for their defenders.
"But I was able to float about, get on the ball and make things happen."
Jacobs' sweetly-struck opener was added to before half-time by a fine strike from midfielder Jeff Hendrick.
"I thought we started really well and set a high tempo," said Jacobs.
"I spoke to (Middlesbrough goalkeeper) Jason Steele afterwards and he said they'd not been harried so much in the league this season and that they'd found it a really tough place to come.
"When we play like that, there's no reason why we can't beat anyone here.
"It was good to get the second goal when we did because it took us into half-time 2-0 up – and it was a great strike from Jeff.
"It was nice for me to get another goal too. It was a great ball from Benny (Davies) that was right on the money.
"You always know he's going to put it in a good area and you can always gamble on where it will go.
"It dropped to me and I managed to catch it pretty nicely on the half-volley."
Sammon added a third for the Rams after the interval and Lukas Jutkiewicz's stoppage-time effort was no more than a consolation for the visitors.
"They've got a lot of experience in their side and we knew they were a threat, even when we were 2-0 up." Jacobs added.
"So it was nice to get the third goal, because that killed the game off, even though they pulled one back at the end.
"That was a shame because I thought we deserved a clean sheet.
"But it was a great win for us and a great way to start the year."