Derby County midfielder Duane Holmes was one of only a few players to emerge from Monday with any credit.
The Rams travelled to east Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest out of form and still nursing injuries. The performance told, as Frank Lampard’s side slumped to a limp 1-0 defeat.
Yohan Benalouane scored the only goal of the game after just two minutes, capitalising on an error from Jayden Bogle. It was a desperately poor goal to concede and gave Forest the perfect start to settle them down.
The early goal set the tone for the encounter. Forest were happy to sit back and look to counter, putting pressure on Derby to break them down. With the Rams struggling for form, it didn’t make for a pretty game for the neutral.
The visitors managed just six shots over the course of the 90 minutes, despite having 64% possession. There were far too many sideways passing from Derby, with Tom Huddlestone and Andy King the main culprits.
How Duane Holmes stood out for Derby County:
But among a raft of poor performances, summer signing Duane Holmes emerged as a shining light as the former Scunthorpe United man at least injected some quality on the ball and some much-needed energy.
The 24-year-old American played the pass of the game – a defence-splitting through-ball which Martyn Waghorn failed to make the most of. The former Ipswich Town forward was one on one with the Forest goalkeeper, yet his attempted chip went harmlessly wide of the goal.
Holmes created two clear chances for Derby, more than his entire teammates combined. Moreover, he posted an 85.5% pass-accuracy rate and drew three fouls, demonstrating his excellent close control.
Derby have often looked to Harry Wilson or Tom Lawrence to provide quality this season, but Holmes is starting to become a more pivotal figure for Lampard’s side. His pace, ball-control, dribbling ability and vision means he has the potential to become a top Premier League midfielder one day.