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Derby’s man for the big occasion should be a key concern for Leeds United tonight

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As the final whistle blew at Pride Park on Saturday, Derby County’s players and staff will have been left incredibly frustrated.

Once again, Leeds United had got the better of them, taking a 1-0 lead from their play-off semi-final first leg into tonight’s decider at Elland Road.

After a cagey first half, it was Bielsa’s side who took the lead just before the hour mark when Jack Harrison’s inch-perfect cross was cooly converted by Kemar Roofe.

Derby saw a decent shout for a penalty eventually turned away after Jayden Bogle appeared to be kicked by Harrison in the box and will have felt Mateusz Klich was lucky to remain on the pitch after appearing to headbutt Fikayo Tomori.

But the biggest frustration will be that, just like back in January, the Rams never looked like they were going to score.

David Nugent came in for the injured Martyn Waghorn but failed to test either Liam Cooper or Gaetano Berardi during his time on the pitch.

So, something needs to change. But the lethargic performance from elder-statesman Nugent at least pointed to one change that Lampard will surely make for tonight – and it is one that Leeds should fear.

Although Marriott seems to have fallen out of favour in recent weeks, with the decision not to start him on Saturday emphasising that point, he is the man to drag Derby back into the tie.

Why? Because Marriott has shown Lampard more than once that he is a man for the big occasion and occasions do not get any bigger than tonight’s clash.

Back in September he scored his first goal for the club against none other than Manchester United in the League Cup as the Rams dumped the Red Devils out of the tournament.

In the next round, too, he showed up, playing the full 90 minutes as they pushed Chelsea all the way with Marriott making the scores 1-1 after the Blues had taken an early lead.

His last goal came right at the death to win all three points away to eventual Champions Norwich City, so Leeds should beware.

Cooper and Berardi may have had it easy on Saturday but if Lampard makes this obvious change, then they will have to be at their very best.


ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Derby’s man for the big occasion should be a key concern for Leeds United tonight

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