The 10 men of Derby County earned a deserved point against Millwall at The Den on Saturday, though Wayne Rooney was left feeling his side could’ve won the game.
The Rams were the side in the ascendancy in the first half a took a deserved lead through Festy Ebosele in the 44th minute but Scott Malone’s strike in first half stoppage time ensured scores were level at the break.
Nathan Byrne’s sending off just after the hour-mark dented Derby’s hopes of taking all three points but they still had some fantastic chances in the final stages of the game.
Things ended 1-1 in south London, meaning the Rams are now nine points adrift of safety at the bottom of the Championship.
Here, we outline three things we learnt about Derby after Saturday’s game…
Rooney’s Festy Ebosele decision could be a masterstroke
The 19-year-old bagged his first goal for the club with a composed finish just before half-time and it was no less than he deserved in what was a really impressive performance.
Ebosele’s presence in the starting XI was celebrated by fans ahead of the game and the manager deserves credit for using him in the way he did.
The teenager is a right-back by trade but Rooney has converted him into a winger because he believes he can cause opposition defenders nightmares in that role.
The former England captain was proven right on Saturday afternoon and it is starting to look as though his decision concerning Ebosele could be a masterstroke.
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Things would be very different with a consistent striker
The Rams were not short of chances against Millwall – as their 15 shots and five on target show – but were unable to make the majority of them count.
Derby attackers got into dangerous positions time after time but their lack of a consistent or in-form goalscorer cost them.
It’s telling that Rooney only has Colin Kazim-Richards and Sam Baldock, both free agent signings, to choose from at the moment and you feel things would be very different if they had a striker that was finding the net regularly.
Graeme Shinnie’s presence is vital
The Scotsman was back in the side after serving a one-match suspension for picking up five yellow cards and served a reminder of just how important his influence is.
In a midfield that contained three players under the age of 22, his composure and leadership are pivotal while the way he looks after possession helped Derby win the battle in the centre of the park for long periods.
Shinnie was named the Rams’ Player of the Season last year and his presence remains absolutely vital.