A double from Theo Robinson and a goal apiece from John Brayford and Conor Sammon helped the Rams to their third consecutive victory over Blackpool at Pride Park Stadium this afternoon, in emphatic fashion.
Robinson’s close range finish after 11 minutes handed Derby the perfect start, before Brayford netted his first goal for the club in over two years, as he powered the ball past Matthew Gilks from the edge of the area to double the Rams’ advantage.
Thomas Ince’s controversial penalty handed the visitors a lifeline, however Robinson was on hand to score his seventh goal of campaign with a cool finish, prior to Sammon’s close-range strike to seal the Rams’ third home League victory of the campaign.
The Rams started the half brightly and did not have to wait long for their first effort of the game. With five minutes gone, Will Hughes’ clever flick found Robinson inside the penalty area, and striker’s subsequent low shot was palmed clear by Gilks – past Paul Coutts, who was in the close vicinity looking for the rebound.
And just six minutes later, Derby’s positive opening was rewarded. Coutts remained patient down the right before firing a low ball into the penalty area towards Robinson. The former Millwall striker got ahead of his marker and swept the ball low into the net from eight-yards out to hand the Rams the lead.
However, the Tangerines almost responded with an immediate equaliser against the run of play, as Gary Taylor-Fletcher saw his close-range effort deflect inches wide of Adam Legzdins’ near post – with the visiting supporters on their feet.
After a narrow escape, Derby once again took control of the game. Craig Bryson’s low drive from a tight angle was well held by Gilks, whilst Hughes’ tantalising low cross was just too heavy for the onrushing Robinson at the far post.
But bang on the half-an-hour mark, the Rams doubled their advantage through an unlikely source. Coutts played a neat one-two with Jeff Hendrick, before the former picked out Brayford just inside the penalty area. The defender did not need a touch as he emphatically rifled the ball past Gilks to score his second ever goal for the Rams.
Before the interval, England youth international Hughes had three half-chances in quick succession to extend the home side’s lead. His first effort came after showing terrific poise and balance to ghost past three Blackpool defenders, only to see his low shot blocked on its way to goal.
Seconds later, Hughes fired a 20-yard effort that took a slight deflection before falling narrowly wide of the post – with Gilks well beaten. Whilst the 17-year-old’s final chance of the 45 was a vicious volley from the edge of the box that flew over the crossbar.
The second-half started in controversial circumstances as Matthew Phillips’ dangerous run subsequent shot was deemed to be blocked by the arm Richard Keogh.
But to the disbelief of the Rams’ faithful, referee Mick Russell point to the spot. Ince took responsibility and fired the resulting penalty into the corner of the net, despite Legzdins’ best efforts.
The visitors’ 48th minute strike was a major confidence booster, as just moments later Taylor-Fletcher’s low drive was superbly blocked by the despairing lunge of James O’Connor.
However, just six minutes after seeing their lead halved, the Rams restored their two-goal advantage through Robinson. The 23-year-old raced past two Blackpool defenders and coolly fired through the legs of visiting ‘keeper Gilks from a tight angle.
Brayford, clearly buoyed by his earlier strike, tried his luck with an ambitious chip from 25-yards on the hour mark, but his long-range effort dropped wide of Gilks’ goal.
With the Rams in the ascendancy, former Wigan Athletic striker Sammon scored one of the easiest goals of his career as he tapped in Coutts’ clever turn and cross from inside the six-yard box, as Derby extended their lead to three.
In the final 10 minutes, Sammon was denied his second goal of the game by a fantastic last ditch tackle from Ian Evatt, following substitute Michael Jacobs’ through ball, before the former Northampton Town winger himself was thwarted as he was about to pull the trigger.
Derby County: Legzdins (GK); Brayford, O'Connor, Keogh, Roberts; Coutts, Hendrick (Freeman 81), Bryson, Hughes (Jacobs 85); Robinson (Tyson 67), Sammon.
Subs Not Used: Deeney, O'Brien, Gjokaj, Davies.
Blackpool: Gilks (GK); Broadfoot, Evatt, Baptiste, Crainey; Angel (Dicko 66), Sylvestre, Grandin (Basham 74), Phillips, Ince; Taylor-Fletcher.
Subs Not Used: Halstead (GK), Eardley, Cathcart, Gomes, Delfouneso.
Attendance: 22,272 (905 Away Supporters).