Analysis – Derby County’s Frank Lampard cries tears of joy to leave Leeds United devastated

THE MEMORIES of Frank Lampard senior dancing around a corner flag at Elland Road after booking West Ham a place in the 1980 FA Cup final at the expense of Everton have long since assumed iconic status in the East End.

Derby County manager Frank Lampard celebrates victory.
Derby County manager Frank Lampard celebrates victory.

With his socks rolled down in the all-white away strip of the Hammers, images of the bearded defender’s celebrations in that famous semi-final replay will always be afforded a special place in the Lampard family scrapbook.

For young Frank, who cut a dash on the sidelines in a smart suit last night, the home of Leeds United will be recalled just as fondly in the days and weeks ahead – and there will be plenty of fresh snaps for the album after this incredulous, scarcely believable episode.

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Match report Leeds United 2 Derby County 4 (agg 3-4)
Stuart Dallas celebrates his goal. Picture Tony Johnson.

After being taunted with a rendition of ‘Stop Crying Frank Lampard’ throughout Saturday’s 1-0 first-leg victory at Pride Park – with the words adapted from an Oasis classic – Derby’s cool, calm and collected young manager finally had his schadenfreude moment at the denouement on the pitch with his players, while his supporters sung heartily about Leeds’s spectacular demise on the night.

Commendable defiance and unstinting support arrived from those home followers shaken to the core at the bitter end of an evening which started to unravel just before the interval.

But the sight of shattered home players lying on the floor provided the real mood music.

The applause and songs for Pablo Hernandez, a player who has given his heart and soul to the cause, proved particularly poignant.

With the battle scars still prominent after too many tortuous campaigns since the club vacated the Premier League to mention, the Leeds faithful will have inwardly suspected that the evening was never going to be easy or straightforward.

True to form, it was neither – and a bit more besides.

Given the drama between these two sides already in 2018-19, this was not likely to be uneventful either, although what happened truly pushed the boundaries.

Never has the line regarding ‘ups and downs’ in Leeds’s anthem of Marching on Together seemed more appropriate on a bewildering evening that ended in a chaotic outcome and a season laying in tatters.

After the high-velocity of Bielsaball, this at times bordered on high farce. A sending off apiece for either side, comical goalkeeping and defending.

Thrills, spills and bellyaches and one Yorkshireman standing tall at the end in two-goal Jack Marriott, who produced the game-breaker late on.

The evening had started with hope fortified by a season of re-emergence and three previous wins of conviction and polish over Derby.

A sea of white that was more striking than a field of snowdrops in full, radiant bloom trapped the visitors in its full glare ahead of kick-off, with the sight being quite something to behold.

After resembling a collective bunch of rabbits caught in headlights in their Elland Road ‘Spygate’ defeat in the first few weeks of the New Year, Leeds were intent on going for the throat again in front of a baying crowd who were again scenting East Midlands blood.

An early kill arrived in January’s 2-0 win, with those in Leeds white likely to be conscious of Derby’s status as wounded animals once again after Saturday’s third victory over the Rams so far in 2018-19.

Just over four months on and Derby were not as transfixed and quite a bit more hardy. Cornered they may have been, but there was more fight this time.

Leeds thought they had imposed their will, thanks to Stuart Dallas’s opener.

Derby gasped for air, as they did on that intoxicating night at the start of 2019 and briefly hinted at going under before they were able to say gracias after a calamitous mistake from Kiko Casilla.

In truth, the leveller moments before the break had been an accident waiting to happen during Casilla’s fitful first-half, with Marriott scarcely able to believe his luck.

The moment infected Leeds’s performance and panic at the back spread like a contagion.

A disbelieving hush descended around the ground with many entitled to turn around to their nearest fellow supporter and ask: ‘Did that really happen?’

A second Derby goal just 40 seconds into the second-half from Mason Mount and Harry Wilson’s penalty just before the hour added to the sense of incredulity.

Dallas briefly restored order, but sadly this proved to be the sort of Elland Road finale that many hoped had been vanquished to the past.

Desperate home results of yore against the likes of Blackpool, Nottingham Forest and Preston came to mind.

Old habits die hard but this was far more brutal in the final analysis.