As thrilled as all Derby County fans will be with the 2-0 win over bitter local rivals Nottingham Forest in yesterday’s East Midlands derby at Pride Park, the sight of a Rams favourite making a playing return will be of equal delight, and provide a huge boost for the team going forward.
George Thorne has been the darling of the Pride Park faithful ever since he committed his future to Derby following a hugely successful loan spell from then parent club West Bromwich Albion. Thorne was a major part of the Rams team that came so desperately close to a Premier League return, after their Wembley Play Off loss against Queens Park Rangers in the 2013/14 season. It was the summer following that heartbreaking game that Thorne signed for the Rams – who paid around £3 million for the midfielder.
But since then, Thorne’s career has been blighted by a succession of serious injuries that has meant he has missed significant chunks of playing time – and there is no doubt that the Rams have suffered for it. Despite bringing in several midfielders over the seasons, including the likes of Bradley Johnson, Jacob Butterfield and more recently free agent Joe Ledley, no one has truly been able to replace Thorne in that crucial midfield holding role, allowing the more expressive Rams midfielders to make those forward breaks that made them one of the more watchable and freescoring teams outside of the Premier League.
Thorne’s return yesterday, where he came on for the last 20 minutes, replacing goalscorer Matej Vydra, is a significant marker for both player and team – both of whom will hope for a period of good health and luck for one of the Rams talismen – and one who’s consistent inclusion in the Derby midfield could genuinely mean a serious promotion push or another season of mid table mediocrity.
The game itself yesterday was a huge indictment of Derby so far this season. A goal after 23 seconds from Vydra was followed by 44 minutes and 37 seconds of Forest domination, who were unlucky not to go in at half time at least on level terms. But the second half was the polar opposite, with the Rams, who killed Forest’s spirit with a second goal on 50 minutes from livewire David Nugent, in full control and guilty of wasting several chances that would have given the scoreline a more lopsided look than it finished. But, overall, Derby deserved the three points, being far more ruthless with their finishing than their rivals, who for all their pretty football, didn’t test Scott Carson that much and quickly ran out of steam and ideas, allowing the Rams to coast home and pick up three much needed Championship points.
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