Six wins against rivals Nottingham Forest so far for Nigel Clough but comebacks are highlights
NIGEL Clough picks the two memorable comebacks at the City Ground as the highlights of his six victories over Nottingham Forest as Derby County manager.
Four of his six wins against the club he graced as a player came at Forest's ground when the odds were stacked heavily against the Rams.
In February 2009, a month after he was appointed manager, Derby faced the Reds in the FA Cup.
They were held 1-1 in the fourth-round tie at Pride Park and made the worst possible start to the replay.
They found themselves two down inside 14 minutes but a goal from Rob Hulse reduced the deficit before half-time and the momentum was suddenly with Derby.
Paul Green steered his header wide of Paul Smith for the equaliser on the hour before former Forest player Kris Commons struck Derby's winner with 16 minutes left, his shot from the edge of the area took a deflection off Luke Chambers and found the corner of the net to set up a fifth-round meeting with Manchester United.
"I think that Cup replay stands out," said Clough.
"We went 2-0 down – we usually go behind early there – and we looked to be out of it.
"But the pleasing thing was the manner in which we came back.
"We were composed. We played our football and kept our heads.
"That game stands out for me, along with the one when we won with 10 men."
The game that sparked the chant "we only had 10 men" was in September 2011.
Supporters were still taking their seats at the City Ground when referee Scott Mathieson awarded Forest a second-minute penalty and sent off Rams goalkeeper Frank Fielding who had brought down Ishmael Miller.
It took a few minutes for the Rams' substitute keeper Adam Legzdins to be introduced, in place of the unlucky Tomasz Cywka who had been handed his first start in six months.
Legzdins' first task was to pick the ball out of the net, beaten by Andy Reid's well-struck spot kick, but Legzdins went on to have a fine debut.
Trailing and down to 10 men, you feared for Derby, but once the players cleared their heads they responded with courage and quality.
Jamie Ward equalised with a wonderful solo effort and Jeff Hendrick made amends for missing a sitter when he guided the ball wide of Lee Camp for Derby's winning goal after 72 minutes, and his first goal in senior football.
"That was a fantastic effort by the players," Clough recalled.
"Those two wins when we had to fight back in difficult circumstances stick in the mind.
"And they were deserved wins. There was no fluke about them.
"The character of the players has played a big part in the wins.
"When you go into derby games, you need to keep a calm head at times, which we have had to, especially at Forest.
"Resilience is also important, as we saw against them at Pride Park last season when we kept going right to the end and Jake Buxton got that 94th-minute winner.
"You need all those things, and more, in these sorts of games."
Matches in recent seasons between the two clubs at the City Ground have been packed with goals and drama, while the clashes at Pride Park have tended to be tighter, more cagey affairs.
Only 10 goals have been scored in the last six East Midlands "derbies" at Pride Park and the last three have been decided by one goal.
Twenty-five goals have been scored in the last six at the City Ground, 13 of them by Derby, although Forest hit five against the Rams in December 2010. Derby have won the last three meetings and Clough is hoping the run continues on Saturday.
"I'm sure they (Forest) will have a little run, it won't keep going, unfortunately," he said. "At some point they (Forest) will win a few of the games as they did for about 40 years, I think, at the City Ground.
"We will have to take that on the chin but I hope that doesn't happen too soon."
Clough has experienced the fixture growing up, then as a player and now a manager. He says his thoughts on the game have not changed over the years.
"It is a very emotional occasion," he added.
"This is the biggest game of the season for the supporters and we feel that all the way through the club.
"But irrespective of the opposition, we need the three points to keep us in the top half of the Championship and to keep us in touch."