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Page last updated at 18:04 GMT, Friday, 21 January 2011

Derby County-Nottingham Forest set for spicy derby

Nottingham Forest v Derby County
Nottingham Forest thrashed Derby 5-2 at the City Ground when the sides last met in December

To describe Saturday's Derby County against Nottingham Forest Championship encounter as spicy is underselling it in a massive way.

Take two sets of fans who - to use another understatement - do not have a lot of time for each other - add in to the mix a thumping Forest win in their last meeting, and season with a whole heap of contrasting fortunes in the past six weeks and you have the makings of a very tasty derby offering.

Forest have climbed steadily towards the automatic promotion places after a typically slow start to the season. They have games in hand on the top two and are perfectly poised to push on in the second half of the campaign.

However things are not simmering as nicely along the A52. The Rams were closing in on the top two after a decent start and some explosive form - particularly at home. But recent form has dipped alarmingly and Nigel Clough's Rams side have slipped to 14th in the Championship table.

The formbook certainly points towards a first Forest win at Pride Park - as it did last season, only for the Rams to secure a battling 1-0 victory over Billy Davies' team.

That offered further proof that form counts for nothing in these derby dust-ups, even if former Forest boss Joe Kinnear once described the contest against Derby as just another game.

How wrong he was, though, because his side's 3-0 defeat by the Rams, proved to be his last game in charge as he resigned soon afterwards.

A repeat of that result would certainly go down a treat with Rams fans still smarting at the Christmas thrashing at the hands of their bitterest rivals, as BBC Radio Derby's Rams correspondent Colin Gibson explains.

"Hurt and humiliated - that's how Derby County fans are feeling ahead of this latest chapter of the Derby County v Nottingham Forest saga," he said.

"It was bad enough to be hit for five at the City Ground but to lose to non-league side Crawley Town in the FA Cup merely compounded the misery.

"Forest fans had every right to rejoice on the night of 29 December; their team ripped a ragged Rams to shreds.

"But Derby fans shouldn't be overly concerned yet. Just remember that Forest strutted along Brian Clough Way a year ago fully expecting to extend their unbeaten away run against a Derby team who, like now, were out of sorts - but Kris Commons and Rob Hulse sent them packing.

"So where will Derby's inspiration come from this time around? Maybe from the former Forest man Commons who is Derby's leading goalscorer. But perhaps the sweetest way to send 'Billy's Heroes' home would be for former Notts County midfielder Ben Davies to curl in a free-kick winner."

Rams boss Clough is certainly aware of the size of the occasion and the expectation that will be on his side on Saturday.

"It's a big game in everyone's eyes, especially the supporters, and we're taking it as a game we really don't want to lose on Saturday, irrespective of the opposition," he told BBC Radio Derby.

"I know a lot of supporters will be baying for revenge, and that's what we'd like as well, but, in our current state, not losing would be an achievement.

"The fans will be looking for a result and the manner of the performance, win, lose or draw. They will want to see some pride and some desire and aggression out there, which is a given in a local derby."

Conversely, Forest counterpart Davies played down the importance of the game, insisting the outcome at Pride Park will not make or break his side's season.

"It's a very important three points for both clubs, but it's not a decisive three points because there's such a long way to go," he told BBC Radio Nottingham.

"I want the fans to represent the club very well and enjoy the game. The winning team will enjoy the moment but the most important thing is that the fans come home very healthy and hopefully celebrating three points.

"It's an important game for fans and bragging rights. But as a manager you have to look at the bigger picture and that is that we face another very difficult away game. It's a very important three points, but it's three points.

"This is only different because of the bragging rights for supporters. What is important is the end result, where we are at the end of the season and not how we got on against our local rivals. Yes, that's important to us but not as important as the bigger picture."

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see also
Derby 0-1 Nottm Forest
22 Jan 11 |  Championship
Fans warned ahead of derby match
21 Jan 11 |  Derby
Rams insist Clough's job is safe
12 Jan 11 |  Derby
Furious Clough rounds on Rams duo
29 Dec 10 |  Derby
Five arrested at football match
30 Dec 10 |  Nottingham
Nottm Forest 5-2 Derby
29 Dec 10 |  Championship

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