Nigel Clough was encouraged by what he saw in Derby County’s 2-2 friendly draw with Colchester Untied on Friday night – but is adamant the Rams need to show a little more cutting edge in front of goal.
Striker Theo Robinson came off the bench to snatch a last-gasp equaliser at the Western Homes Community Stadium, after ex-West Ham striker Freddie Sears cancelled out an own goal by Colchester defender Magnus Okuonghae in the first-half with a well-taken brace.
Clough’s men created a number of chances throughout the game, especially in the first half, and the Rams boss doesn’t want missed chances to be the story of Derby’s season in 2012-13.
He told Rams Player after the game: “Tonight we saw a good performance in lots of ways and there were plenty of positives out there.
“We should have been two or three goals ahead at least in the first half; we played some excellent stuff and created some good chances which we really should have taken.
“There’s still a fortnight to go before the season, but we need to start capitalising on those situations and tightening up at the back.
“Ironically, our first-half goal came through an error, but we kept battling away in the second half even when we went a goal down and although it’s a pre-season game it was nice not to lose – it’s a good habit to have.”
Clough named a strong side against John Ward’s men in Essex, and felt as a result there was plenty to be encouraged about as his side – with four new faces – continue to gel together nicely.
He said: “The patterns and partnerships are developing, we saw John Brayford and Paul Coutts link up well and it was nice to get Richard Keogh and Jake Buxton lined up in defence for the first time as a pair.
“It was also good to get the injured boys back like Gareth Roberts, and also hand a first appearance to James O’Connor.
“Those partnerships will develop, but there’s a good understanding there already which is encouraging and the sharpness is coming along nicely too, as we expected in facing a League 1 side.”
After a week away in East Anglia and two friendly games against Northampton and Colchester, Clough is satisfied with how the last week has panned out for Derby.
He said: “We’ve had a good week; we’ve had two good games against good opposition and it’s been nice for the lads to have some time together as a group.
“Now we’re looking forward to stepping things up next week, especially against Sunderland at Pride Park on Wednesday.”