Swansea City goalkeeper Freddie Woodman earned praise from his manager after proving a diligent student during a hard-earned point at Derby County.
Woodman – on loan at the Swans from Newcastle – saved a first-half penalty that Steve Cooper insisted owed as much to pre-game planning as the keeper’s athleticism.
The keeper denied Martyn Waghorn four minutes before half-time and also made a second-half double save to earn his side a point from a 0-0 draw at Pride Park in game of few clear chances.
Cooper said: “Waghorn has gone that way four out of the last five and we just felt that being the first game at home he would do what he thinks he’s good at.
“It wasn’t a bad penalty, it was a really good save but fair play to Freddie, he’s done his analysis and it’s worked for us. We expected him to save the penalty once it went that way.”
The Swans took a point from the kind of game they might have lost to a set-piece last season.
Not that Cooper was entirely satisfied with his team’s performance as they struggled to create many clear openings, although they remain unbeaten after two Championship matches.
“We expected to win the game and in the game plan there were opportunities to do that,” added Cooper.
“So we are disappointed we didn’t create enough chances because we got into good positions – but the final ball let us down too many times.
“So mixed feelings about our offensive play, particularly when we broke the line in midfield, but it’s a decent point.
“We were good off the ball at times. I thought we were good with our high press and forced them into areas where we wanted them to go, and then nicked the ball, and that’s where we thought we could exploit them.
“But it’s obviously a bit of an atmosphere here. They had a good win on Monday, you can see that the fans were behind them even though we made them quite quiet when the game settled in the first half. We showed a bit of heart and soul late on.”
There was an early scare for Derby when skipper Richard Keogh was shown a yellow card in the third minute for a trip on Borja Baston just outside the area but Matt Grimes’ free-kick was too high to trouble Kelle Roos.
Swansea were almost opened up when Waghorn played in Florian Jozefzoon on the right but his shot struck a defender and went behind for a corner which was wasted.
The visitors did better from a corner in the 26th minute when Grimes swung the ball in dangerously and Van der Hoorn dived to head just wide.
Waghorn flashed a shot wide but wasted a chance to put Derby ahead in the 41st minute after Jayden Bogle was brought down by Jake Bidwell on the edge of the six-yard box.
Waghorn struck the penalty low but Woodman plunged to his left to turn the ball behind and then Swansea went close in the 45th minute when Borja’s cross-shot was pushed out by Roos.
Cocu made a change at the start of the second half, Paterson replacing George Evans, and Derby lost Bogle with a knee injury in the 54th minute after Woodman made a double save from Jozefzoon and Scott Malone.
Swansea had a chance a minute later when Nathan Dyer found space inside the area on the left but after his first shot was blocked, his follow-up was deflected behind.
The game was starting to open up and after Sam Surridge turned and shot wide in the 75th minute, Waghorn was unable to connect properly with a low cross and Woodman saved.
Tom Huddlestone had a shot deflected behind as Derby pressed, Keogh just failed to get his head to a cross in the 88th minute and Waghorn looped a shot just over in seven minutes of stoppage time.