Goalkeeper David Marshall was delighted to see Derby County record a much-needed victory on his return to the side as the Rams beat Luton Town 2-0 at Pride Park Stadium on Good Friday.
The shot-stopper had to be on hand to make a string of impressive saves, particularly in the first half, as Derby ended a run of seven games without a win in the Sky Bet Championship against the Hatters.
Lee Gregory put Wayne Rooney’s side ahead on seven minutes as he poked home from close range following a knock-down from the returning Martyn Waghorn to put Derby ahead.
Derby dominated and could have been further ahead, but at the other end Marshall had to be alert to thwart two Luton chances at the end of the first half.
He denied Elijah Adebayo with his feet as the striker went one-on-one with the goalkeeper, whilst he also tipped Glen Rea’s header wide.
Derby extended their lead from the penalty spot just after the break as Graeme Shinnie stepped up, after Tom Lawrence was fouled, and ensured the Rams earned all three points
“Everybody knew before the game how big it was,” Marshall told RamsTV. “We haven’t been on a good run at all, so to get back to action at home and get a win was massive.
"Hopefully that sets us up well for the game at Reading on Monday.
“After the first goal, we had some really good chances to get a few more. At any level, if you’ve got one goal then the game is on a knife-edge.
"Tom Lawrence came in today and adds a bit of quality which we’ve missed this season, so for him to get us the penalty to win us the game was a big moment.
“He’s had a hard time of it. Tom has tried his best to get back fit as soon as possible so hopefully we can keep him available between now and the end of the season.
“They had a spell and to be fair to Luton, they always have a go and they have been good this season.
“We knew there was going to be a spell where we had to weather the storm and it came for 10 minutes in the first half, but I thought the boys got in at half time and refocused."
The Rams entered the game five points outside the relegation places following a run of seven games without a victory prior to the March international break.
Whilst it has been a tough period, they had the two-week gap without a fixture to work on ideas and implement them on the training ground.
And the goalkeeper admitted the players knew how big a win could be - and he was pleased they held on to all three points.
“We knew in the dressing room how vital it was today,” he explained. “I don’t know the other results but I think after the run we’ve been on, the focus in the last two weeks has to be concentrating on ourselves.
“If we go and play like well like we did for the majority of the game today then we will get points on the board in more matches.
“Easter weekend is always pivotal in the Championship. We’ve had a good start with today’s win but we’ve got tough games coming up against Reading, who are in the play-offs, and Norwich who will come here who are looking to get promoted.
"We need to be right on it in the games coming up."
Marshall made his first appearance since suffering an injury against Nottingham Forest at the end of February for Scotland during the international break.
He started in their 2-2 draw against Austria at Hampden Park in their opening 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier., whilst he also played the 90 minutes in Israel as they drew 1-1 a few days later.
“It’s been a stop-start season for me,” he admitted. “I had a virus in January and missed two or three games, got the injury and missed two or three games as well so since the start of the year, it’s been a bit in and out for me. I just need to get a rhythm going.
“It was good to get back in the team today and my first game back in a month was the Scotland games. They made me fresher and sharper, so I’m delighted to be back playing.”