'Remarkable' Rams are hailed after sinking Boro
NIGEL Clough said Derby County's victory over high-riding Middlesbrough was right up there with the Rams' best displays this season.
Clough described yesterday's 3-1 victory at Pride Park Stadium as a "remarkable result and performance".
Michael Jacobs, Jeff Hendrick and Conor Sammon struck before Lukas Jutkiewicz grabbed a consolation for Middlesbrough in stoppage time.
"I think we have played as well as that, if not better at times at home this season," said Clough.
"But considering the team we had out and the opposition, it is certainly up there.
"Middlesbrough had a few players missing themselves but at the start of the game we had a 17-year-old, three 20-year-olds and a 21-year-old out on the pitch.
"We were also without Craig Bryson, Jamie Ward, Gareth Roberts and Jake Buxton.
"Given all that, it is a remarkable result and performance."
Derby took only one point from their three matches over the Christmas period.
They lost to Hull City and Burnley and drew at Charlton Athletic.
Clough praised the effort and response of his players in beating Middlesbrough.
"It was a big ask physically with the Christmas trips we had," said Clough.
"We had two long trips to Burnley and Charlton, so you cannot ask any more of the players and what they gave against Middlesbrough.
"We like to be on the front foot early on, especially at home, and we also know that if you give Middlesbrough the time and space they will hurt you with the quality they have."
The victory and performance was a highly-encouraging way to start 2013.
Derby are 10th in the Championship, three points away from the sixth place.
Clough opted to go with a strikeforce of Sammon and Jacobs, who has been used mainly as a left winger since he signed from Northampton Town in the summer.
Asked for his thinking behind Jacobs' 'new' role, Clough said: "He has not done very well wide at times!
"From seeing Michael pre-season, we quite fancied him in the sort of role that Jamie Ward plays for us.
"We thought the Middlesbrough game was a good opportunity to use Michael there.
"Theo Robinson and Nathan Tyson played up front at Charlton on Saturday in heavy conditions so we had to get some fresh legs out there and we thought we would have a look at Michael and Conor.
"We thought Michael caused problems and he took his goal really well.
"We think he has got a lot of ability, he just needs to learn a bit about the game.
"He is a terrific prospect and there are a few in the team – Will Hughes, Jeff Hendrick and Kieron Freeman, who made his debut out of position at left-back. I thought he did very well indeed."