Alex McLeish proud of Nottingham Forest display at Derby County
ALEX McLeish today said he was proud of Nottingham Forest's performance against Derby – and pledged to turn the tide in the Reds' favour in future East Midlands derbies.
The Forest manager felt his side deserved more than the point they gained from a 1-1 draw at Pride Park on Saturday, following an encouraging display that saw them finish the stronger of the two sides in the final stages.
And he leapt to the defence of Simon Gillett, who was robbed of possession by Connor Sammon in the run-up to the equalising goal from Jamie Ward, which cancelled out Chris Cohen's first half strike.
"Forest have not had the best run of form against Derby in recent years, but I am here to change that," said McLeish. "And, asides from conceding a daft goal, I was really proud of their performance.
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"It is unlike Gilly to lose the ball, of all people, you would not expect it to be him. But we did warn them about the threat of Connor Sammon and his chasing of lost causes. He turned that into a cause that proved to be worthwhile for Derby.
"We started a little bit slowly. They got out the traps and pressed us. But we settled into it and showed some composure.
"I was disappointed with our use of the ball at times. When we got the ball, we just hit it forward sometimes. I told them that, when you are going to hit longer balls, you have to choose your moment. You have to be intelligent. You have to pick out a pass or play a ball into space for a striker to chase.
"It is about mixing it up. But we showed that composure a little more after we had settled into things.
"I am pleased that we got something from the game, but disappointed that it was not three points."
McLeish had particular praise for Henri Lansbury – and for referee Mark Clattenburg, who successfully kept the lid on what has been a powder keg of a fixture in recent years.
"Henri really grew into the game. I was really pleased with his performance. He started slowly, but that is to do with the fact that he missed pre-season and is still playing catch up, in terms of his sharpness," said McLeish.
"He got stronger towards the end of the game. He was closing down and making vital tackles. Henri can be pleased with his performance.
"There is a lack of sharpness in some players. Lewis is another case in point. We have to up their training a little bit to work on that. That is something we have been addressing over the last few weeks.
"I thought the referee had a terrific game, he showed all his experience. He didn't bow down to all the noise from the home fans. That can be intimidating for referees."