Conor Washington: Derby County victory ‘marker in the sand’ for team

Derby County put down “a marker in the sand” with their impressive performance against Northampton Town, according to striker Conor Washington.

He was among the scorers in a 4-0 win, which came just three days after a disappointing 3-1 defeat by Stevenage.

The unhappiness among fans following the Stevenage game led to boss Paul Warne being given a public vote of confidence by owner David Clowes.

“We needed a response and we got one,” Washington told BBC Radio Derby.

“We’ve had the conversation [about consistency] so many times now. We seem to be one step forward one step back all the time.

“This was probably our best performance, I would say, most chances created and definitely the most we’ve dominated a game of football, and we need to make sure we can take this form away from here.”

The win moved Derby up to seventh in League One, just two points outside the play-off places, before a weekend trip to League Two side Crewe in the FA Cup.

“It’s only one step in the right direction, we can’t go to Crewe and put in an under-par performance like we did at Stevenage,” said Northern Ireland international Washington.

“It’s a marker in the sand – that’s the minimum we expect from each other. Obviously, we found a formula that worked. We’ve two cup games coming up then we need to finish off this little period before the international break with a win against Barnsley as well.”

More than half of Washington’s appearances this season have been from the bench following his arrival at Pride Park in the summer.

But he has started the past two games and believes he is getting back to something like his best.

The 31-year-old added: “I had no pre-season. I played a part in the last week of training but we’ve not been consistent as a team so it’s been hard to find any consistency on a personal basis. Hopefully this and the goal the other night [against Exeter] is something I can build on.

“The gaffer’s always on at me to shoot more, especially on my left side, it’s something we work on a lot. The ball was fantastic and it was a good finish in the end.

“We’ve got serious options in the striking department. Obviously Waggy’s [Martyn Waghorn] injured at the moment [but] he’s another one to add to the list, so the competition’s fierce.

“As strikers we have to make sure we’re doing enough to keep the shirt and hopefully I’ve managed to do that.”

Assistant head coach Richie Barker said his only frustration was that Derby had not managed to score more.

“It was a good opportunity for us to send out a real message. Hopefully, it has,” he said.

“The counter-pressing and reaction to losing the ball was excellent. You have to do the right things, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing. People come here to watch goals, but you’ve got to get the ball back if you’re going to score goals and that’s exactly what we did.

“I think they ended up playing three different formations in the first half, which proves we created issues for them. Certainly in the first half, in terms of entertainment, shots on goal, the way we moved the ball, people will have gone away thinking ‘they have got the right work ethic, they do the right things’ and I was very proud of them as a group of players.”

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