Liam Rosenior was full of praise for the way Derby County’s players battled back from a goal behind to claim a 1-1 draw at Coventry City in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday afternoon.
Matty Godden put the Sky Blues ahead after 20 minutes from the penalty spot after full-back Lee Buchanan brought down the striker inside the penalty area in a first half of relatively few clear chances.
The home side dominated for long spells in the opening 45 minutes, but the Rams remained resolute to stay in the game.
Substitute Colin Kazim-Richards hit the post in the second half minutes after coming off the bench as the Rams pushed to get themselves back onto level terms.
Derby’s persistence was rewarded with just over ten minutes to go as midfielder Graeme Shinnie lashed home his first goal of the campaign in front of excess of 3,400 Rams fans in the away end.
Coventry had won all six league games on home turf this term ahead of kick-off, meaning the Rams became the first side to leave the Coventry Building Society Arena with something to show for their efforts.
Manager Wayne Rooney was not in attendance due to illness, but he was in contact with Rosenior and the coaching staff throughout the afternoon whilst watching the action unfold at home.
That left Assistant Manager Rosenior to oversee proceedings from the technical area in the West Midlands and he was thrilled to see the side extend their unbeaten run to five matches.
Speaking to RamsTV, Rosenior said: “It was a game of two halves, which the oldest cliché in the book, and I thought it was a good match between two good footballing teams.
“We felt we could hurt them in the transition but give credit to Coventry, that’s one of the best performances we have seen against us this season. They are a very good footballing team and we were aware of their strengths beforehand.
“They were very good in the first half, but I thought we were in the second half too and that came from playing five yards higher up the pitch. On top of that, I thought the two substitutes when they came on made a big difference - Colin Kazim-Richards and Louie Sibley - in terms of their energy.
“Coventry were a little bit more aggressive than we were in the first half. It wasn’t a tactical thing, it’s natural when you have three games in a week and a difficult grind with a small squad.
“To see the reaction of the players and see the energy, passion and quality that they played with in the second half, we are absolutely delighted with them. We have to keep believing in the way that we play, believing in each other and I’m sure we will get out of the situation we are in.
“When you work hard as a team, you concede less goals. We know that we need to score more goals but that will come if we keep playing like that today.”
He added: “I’m absolutely delighted with every single one of the players. I don’t think we have got the points return this week that we deserved but in terms of performances, we need to stick with it because the points will come off the back of that.”
Shinnie’s goal was his first of the season and it was perfectly timed to help the side earn a valuable point on the road as the registered a fourth successive league draw.
Rosenior said: “It was a great time for Graeme to score his first goal of the season.
“He’s had a couple of chances recently, but he deserves it. He is one of the most honest players you could work with and his quality on the ball is getting better and better.
“It couldn’t happen to a better guy because he deserves that and he’s put a great shift in in the last couple of games. Now he needs to get more goals.”
Derby’s coaching team in the technical area were in contact with Rooney during the 90 minutes to discuss tactics and potential substitutions.
Rosenior has admitted that Rooney’s confidence and relationship in his staff helped limit the impact of his absence on the players.
“We were in constant communication with him throughout the game,” Rosenior admitted. “It was doctors’ orders to stay away and it’s not COVID-19, he’s just ill and with the squad we’ve got and a few bugs going around, we need to keep everyone as fit as possible.
“It sums up the manager that he would rather sacrifice himself for a game to not spread it to the rest of us and I hope he gets better as soon as possible. He’s a huge presence, he gives us belief and confidence as a staff and players and the sooner he gets better, the better it is for us.”
Derby have a week until their next Championship fixture with the Rams hosting Blackburn Rovers at Pride Park Stadium next Saturday (3pm kick-off).