Andreas Weimann slipped in to an unfamiliar role in Derby County’s 1-0 victory in the first-leg of the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final against Fulham on Friday night and hailed the team’s ability to stick to their game plan.
The Rams remained concrete in their shape to shut down Fulham and ensure they held a head start going to Craven Cottage on Monday evening for the final stop before one team moves on to Wembley.
Gary Rowett’s men remained compact with the three at the back, two wing backs and centre-midfielders holding off the Cottagers and allowing the Derby forwards to strike on counter-attacks.
There were glimpses of Fulham’s threatening nature that allowed them to go on a 24-game unbeaten run before they tasted a long-awaited defeat on Sunday – at the hands of Birmingham City.
However, the Rams denied all their attempts to break through allowing only two shots on target, both from range.
For the first time since mid-December, the Cottagers failed to get a goal.
The Austrian international told RamsTV: “It was hard work, but I think our game plan worked.
“We knew they would have the ball more than us, but we were very dangerous on the counter attack with the players that we have got up front.
“Our shape was really good tonight, they only managed a couple of shots that were from outside the box and didn’t manage to play through us.
“We played really well tonight.”
Weimann stepped up for the team slipping into a wing-back role to compensate for the loss of Marcus Olsson who sustained an ACL injury in the final game of the season last Sunday against Barnsley.
It was the 26-year-old’s first trial run playing in the more defensive role.
He added: “It was a first for me, but I enjoyed it. I think I can play that role, it was more defensive work, but I tried my best and hopefully I helped the team.”
In the final five minutes of the game, Weimann ventured back into his more accustomed role running through with great potential to double their lead, until cramp brought him down.
It was unfortunate timing, however, it showed just how much each player put their body on the line to get the result.
“I’ve not cramped up in about 10 years and that was probably the worst moment to do it,” Weimann said.
“I was through and just took a touch then I just got cramp and went down like a sniper shot me!”
He added: “Before this game we knew in these two games we had to put everything on the line and we did tonight and we are going to do the same on Monday.”
Cameron Jerome’s decisive header in the first half sealed the Rams a first-leg victory – his fifth goal in just four games.
“It was brilliant. A brilliant cross from Fozzy, then what a header!
“He’s on fire at the minute. It’s good for us as a team that he is scoring for fun at the moment.”
Weimann is calling on his team for much of the same on Monday night to punch their ticket to the showpiece final and a shot at promotion.
“It’s going to be the same, we expect them to have more of the ball again, but with our attacking players, if we take a bit more care I think we can get a couple of goals there and get to Wembley.”