Derby County 3-0 Blackburn: Chris Martin bags brace
Derby County 3-0 Blackburn: Chris Martin bags brace in Wayne Rooney’s absence to boost Rams’ play-off hopes
- Wayne Rooney was ruled out before kick-off to end his run of 100 per cent starts
- His absence was initially unexplained as he was spotted at Pride Park on Sunday
- His replacement 18-year-old Louie Sibley scored a spectacular first goal
- Phillip Cocu’s side moved to within five points of the top six after their 3-0 win
Derby County did not need Wayne Rooney as they boosted their play-off hopes with another impressive display by teenager Louie Sibley on his full League debut.
Rooney was ruled out before kick-off to end his run of 100 per cent starts since making his Derby debut in January. But, while his absence was initially unexplained, the Rams captain was spotted at Pride Park.
Yet any concerns about how that would affect Derby were soon forgotten when 18-year-old Sibley scored a spectacular first goal for the club as Phillip Cocu’s side moved to within five points of the top six.
31-year-old Chris Martin scored twice, the second a late penalty as Derby beat Blackburn
At the other end of the spectrum, 31-year-old Chris Martin scored twice, the second a late penalty, and it means he has had a hand in eight goals in the last seven games – brining his own goal tally to five during the same spell.
Sibley had already made this mark in Rams colours with a man of the match display in the 3-0 FA Cup defeat to Manchester United on Thursday.
Then, Sibley had played alongside Rooney. But even without the guiding hand of the Manchester United legend three days later, Derby’s Academy graduate showed he was capable of being an influence in his own right against a Blackburn side who had been looking for a victory to take them into the top six.
Rovers’ miserable day was compounded when substitute John Buckley, who had only come on 18 minutes earlier, was sent off in stoppage time for a bad challenge on Derby defender Curtis Davies.
Wayne Rooney was ruled out before kick-off to end his run of 100 per cent starts since joining
Sibley’s goal was one that he will never forget as Martyn Waghorn set him up and the youngster delivered a left-foot drive that curled away from keeper Christian Walton before finding the top corner.
And Sibley played a part again four minutes before half-time when he fed Graeme Shinnie whose long range shot was only pushed out by Walton into the path of Chris Martin who still had some work to do before converting from close range.
Sibley’s contribution highlighted the progress being made by Derby’s young players.
But the experienced Waghorn, who also had a first half penalty appeal turned down, was a constant threat. And he looked to have made it three just before the break when he took the ball around Walton and slid a shot goalwards, only to see it hit the inside of the post and bounce out.
Derby County’s Louie Sibley (right) celebrates scoring his side’s first goal of the game
And, four minutes into the second half, Waghorn went close again as Walton had to save his 20-yard free kick.
Derby rarely looked in any danger and Martin’s 85th minute penalty sealed the game after Jason Knight was brought down by Rovers’ Elliott Bennett. Martin cooly smashed his spot-kick straight down the middle.
As for Blackburn, they were left to rue a ninth minute miss from the recalled striker Ben Brereton. He sliced over from eight yards and that earned him the ex-City Ground player a chant of ‘Forest reject’.
Rovers had only lost once in 10 games before this, but they turned in a below par display and it was Derby who set up the possibility of a late charge for the play-offs.
Again, they showed how comfortable they are playing at Pride Park where they have lost just twice in 19 games in all competitions.
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