Derby County took a step closer towards Premier League football last night with a stunning 4-2 victory over Leeds United. After losing the first leg at Pride Park 1-0, the Rams produced a stunning comeback to book a date with Aston Villa at Wembley.
It was all unravelling for Frank Lampard’s team at Elland Road. Stuart Dallas netted early doors to give the Whites a two-goal cushion on aggregate, but Jack Marriott’s introduction from the bench inspired a terrific comeback performance.
Former Chelsea midfielder Lampard has taken to life as a manager with absolute aplomb. The Rams have endured sticky periods during the campaign, but ultimately he now has the East Midlands-based outfit on the cusp of the Premier League.
A brace from Marriott, a Harry Wilson spot-kick and Mason Mount provided the goals for the Rams on a memorable night in the club’s history.
One more step
The next challenge for Lampard is to do what Steve McClaren couldn’t and win the showpiece final. The ex-England boss led the Rams to the national stadium in 2014 to face Queens Park Rangers. A cruel Bobby Zamora goal in injury-time saw the R’s promoted instead, despite Derby’s dominance.
Lampard has been undeterred by the Rams’ past. In previous years the club has drastically dropped off the pace around February and March time. One win in five games in February seemed to follow suit but he has ensured the confidence hasn’t dropped within his ranks.
The boss took to Instagram today to praise his team and let the supporters know where his focus immediately lies. He posted:
Waiting for Derby at Wembley is Aston Villa. They have been on a tremendous run of late and it will be a tough challenge for the Rams to overcome Dean Smith’s men.
One aspect that Derby do have in their favour is their immense character. Time and time again this season people have written Derby, and Lampard, off.
A young squad of players came of age last night. If Lampard takes this Derby side to the promised land of the Premier League during his maiden campaign in management, it will represent a truly remarkable story.