Playing for pride in our only away Derby?

With this season probably dead in the water after last Saturday's defeat to Fleetwood, we might have to wait another while before getting a crack at exorcising the Millwall curse or facing Palace back in their rightful place in the Championship. At least we still have the prospect of one Derby in this division.

In a League One severely lacking in London teams, we've got used to heading up the country on our travels and this weekend takes us to Pride Park Stadium in Derby. We do though find ourselves in a strange position of off-field dramas again being the main show in town before the season's even two thirds of the way through. Indeed, the ground seems apt since there's little more than pride to play for in a season that might have been so different if we'd got hold of Dean Holden much earlier.

After being left sheepish against Fleetwood last Saturday, we can only hope for a better performance against Derby's rams. At least we came off best in our Valentine's Night encounter with Big Duncan Ferguson's Forest Green, burgling three valuable points to lift us above mid-table but still sitting thirteen points off the play-off places.

Derby County are presently in the play off places on fifty points, fourteen ahead of us, with thirty games gone. They too have had plenty of ownership dramas in recent times but appear now to have steadied the ship. Notably the purchase and ownership of Pride Park by the present owner was an important part of their attainment of stability.

Prior to the local property developer David Clowes taking over the club, a whole host of less salubrious characters had been sniffing around the carcass of a club heading fast towards threats of administration and legal challenges as a result of reckless spending that should never have happened, with proper regulation.

Anyway back to the football, in what seems an eternity ago now, we have already beaten a strong Derby side this season. Back in Ben Garner's first home game of the season we defeated a profligate Derby side 1-0 where a terrible first half performance got half-forgotten in the euphoria of Corey Blackett-Taylor's winner just after the hour.

Since then both men in the hot seat that day have moved on in the managerial merry-go-round. Liam Rosenior has been replaced by ex-Rotherham boss Paul Warne and Dean Holden taking over from Ben Garner. Since Christmas, both managers have brought the best out of their respective squads with Warne's 100% record in January earning him the manager of the month award. They have been suffering a bit of a blip though, with only one point picked up in their last two outings, away to Wycombe and at home to Lincoln.

This might be a good time to face them then but they have a strong squad that might have a particular interest to the Irish Addicks amongst us, with no less than seven Irish Rams in their squad. This apparently has been a strong feature of Derby squads of the 21st century. The present cadre includes such internationals as David McGoldrick and Conor Hourihane.

Interestingly too, they have a certain Krystian Bielik on their payroll but he is presently on loan at Birmingham. Considering how good he was back in our promotion winning side of 2018-19, maybe we should be worried that he can't get into this present Derby County side and indeed their fans would happily see him sold, if not for lingering transfer complexities.

Even if we won't be seeing that former Addick on the teamsheet, hopefully we make the most of our one Derby trip in League One this season. Who knows what a win could spark, even at this late stage - taking hope from Shrewsbury's recent surge up the table out of nowhere, after putting a sequence of consecutive wins together? Maybe, just maybe we might end up playing for more than pride if we can manage to do the same.