Phillip Cocu stressed the importance of set-pieces after Derby County recorded a 1-0 win over Hull City at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday afternoon in their latest Sky Bet Championship fixture.
Centre-back Matt Clarke scored the only goal of the game just after the hour mark to hand Derby a third successive home victory.
Clarke rose highest to head home Tom Lawrence’s corner and net his first goal in a Derby shirt after joining on loan from Premier League Brighton & Hove Albion for the season back in the summer.
The win over the Tigers also saw the Rams extend their unbeaten run to six matches in all competitions.
Cocu has regularly stressed during the campaign that set-plays, at both ends of the pitch, are a vital part of the game - and he was delighted with what he described as a 'good team performance'.
Speaking to RamsTV after the final whistle, Cocu said: “It was a great goal for us and a good three points; I think it was a good team performance today.
“The corner from Tom Lawrence came with great timing and Matt got there first. We spoke after the game and Matt joked it was about time he got a goal.
“Throughout the season, if the centre-backs score two or three goals from set-pieces then not only do they help the team by their defending but also getting the winner like today.
“Matt got the goal and again it confirms that set-pieces are very important. We defended well to see the game out and we are happy with that.”
He added: “We know that good defending is needed in this league against every opponent, both home and away.
“In some games we play great football and in other games it is more difficult, but always we have to push on to the last second and be proactive on the grass as a team and not as individuals.”
Derby’s six-game unbeaten sequence is their best of the campaign so far, picking up four wins and two draws during that run.
The Rams are now 15th in the table and remain only seven points off a play-off spot despite a relatively inconsistent campaign.
Cocu’s side will, however, take a brief break from their league programme when they head to Northampton Town in the Fourth Round of the Emirates FA Cup next Friday and he is aware Derby are in for a tricky tie against the Cobblers.
Cocu admitted: “We spoke earlier in the week about keeping the run going and that was important.
“After the draw in the away game at Middlesbrough last weekend we wanted to keep having positive results at Pride Park Stadium.
“Now we are going to prepare in the right manner for the FA Cup tie at Northampton on Friday. It is also a big game that we will try to win because we want to keep going in the cup.”