Curtis Davies has called on his Derby County team-mates to produce another ‘brave and bold’ performance on Monday evening to protect their advantage gained in the Sky Bet Championship semi-final first-leg against Fulham on Friday.
The Rams’ composure and stubborness not to waiver from their game-plan at Pride Park Stadium ensured they head to West London with a 1-0 head start on the Cottagers.
Their reluctance to be drawn in to Fulham’s attacking style and ability to stay solid in their shape meant the Rams extinguished all the Cottagers advancements and allowed just two shots on target, both from outside the area.
The Rams’ captain proved to be a nightmare for Aleksandar Mitrovic who failed to find the net after he has scored 12 goals in 17 Championship matches since his loan spell began at the end of January.
Davies told RamsTV: “I think we won plaudits for the way we frustrated Fulham.
“A lot of people that watch football and watch the Championship will know that Fulham are a team that will keep the ball against the best, but it’s how you deal with it.
“On the night we defended very well as a unit and when we did get the ball into their half we played some good stuff.
“But you can’t really defend for another 90 minutes down there, we need to make sure that we pose a threat as well and possibly score a goal.”
The Rams may have the lead, but it is only half-time in the semi-final and for the first time, they are the ones with the targets on their backs.
Derby will have to defend their advantage, but the 33-year-old centre-back insists his side won’t be sitting back and just keeping the Cottagers away.
“I don’t think anything will change for Fulham because that’s the way they play, they can only play attacking football,” Davies said.
“For us, we are a clean-sheet away from Wembley, but that’s not to say we are going to sit there and park the bus with 10 at the back.
“It’s a game of chess, at the moment we have got the upper hand so we need to protect that. Fulham will give their all and they are a very tough team to play against.
“It’s tough enough for 90 minutes, let alone 180, so we are going to have to go there and be brave, bold and come away with a result hopefully.”
Along with the team, 2,010 Rams fans will head to Craven Cottage after the allocation of tickets sold out.
The atmosphere at Pride Park was electrifying, with more than 27,000 in attendance, and Davies hopes the fans will provide the same support away from home.
“The support on Friday was magnificent,” he said.
“The fans didn’t get upset with things, I think they accepted too that Fulham were going to keep the ball, and they backed us all the way.
“Whenever we did go on those breaks they were right behind the lads and nearly roared us another goal in. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get that second one, but come Monday hopefully they will be supporting us again and we do get another goal.”
There is one final stop before hopefully moving on to Wembley, however, for Davies, that isn’t what Derby are playing for.
“I’ve always said the prize isn’t getting to Wembley, Wembley is nothing. It’s promotion.
“It might be a good day out for the fans and family. For me I wouldn’t care if it was played in the park across the road, you want to play a game of football and win promotion.
“That is the key to remember.”