Derby County continued their pre-season preparations for the forthcoming 2014/15 campaign with a 4-2 victory over League Two side Northampton Town.
Midfielder Jeff Hendrick netted a first-half double while a goal apiece from Conor Sammon and John Eustace secured the win in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Champneys Springs.
Republic of Ireland international Hendrick got the Rams off to a flying start when the 22-year-old latched onto Will Hughes perfectly weighted through ball before coolly slotting past goalkeeper Matt Duke.
60 seconds later Derby doubled their advantage. Eustace found Hendrick 30-yards from goal, who picked out the forward run of the Sammon. The striker burst towards goal from the inside-left position prior to driving the ball into the bottom corner.
However, it was Northampton who went on to seal the third goal in the space of three minutes. Central defender Zak Whitbread was punished for a mistimed back-pass to goalkeeper Kelle Roos, with Cobblers midfielder Darren Carter rifling the loose ball high into the net.
Mason Bennett then found Sammon in the area, only for the former Wigan Athletic striker to see his shot blocked, but the Rams continued to press high up the pitch, and it was the Republic of Ireland international’s fortitude that led to Derby’s third goal.
Sammon hounded goalkeeper Duke into playing a long ball forward, which was easily dealt with by Whitbread. The ball then fell kindly to Hendrick, who took one touch before lashing it into the bottom corner from 20-yards.
In the second-half, Head Coach Steve McClaren implemented four changes at the interval, before making the remainder of his substitutions on the hour mark.
One substitute in particular, Johnny Russell, made an immediate impact, as the Scotsman delivered an in-swinging corner from the right, which was powerfully headed into the net by experienced midfielder Eustace to make it 4-1.
Russell’s involvement in the game lasted less than 20 minutes, however, after the former Dundee United forward was withdrawn after being on the wrong end of a number of heavy tackles, with trialist Ivan Calero given another opportunity to make an impression.
With 14 minutes remaining, the Cobblers pulled another goal back, as the Rams failed to deal with a cross from the left, leaving David Moyo unmarked at the far post, who stooped to head home from close-range.
The Rams will play a second friendly this evening, as a Derby County XI are set to travel to local non-league outfit Mickleover Sports this evening (7:15pm).
It is expected that the line-up heading to Mickleover will be made up of players from Derby’s Under 21 set-up.
Mickleover compete in the Evo-Stik NPL Division One South and were beaten Play-Off Finalists last season as they lost 1-0 to Belper Town.
Ticket prices for tonight’s game are £8 Adults, £4 Concessions and £1 Under 16s (FREE with an Adult) at the Raygar Stadium.
Derby County: Roos (GK) (Etheridge 60’); Medaglia (Hendrie 60’), Keogh (O’Brien 45’), Whitbread (Buxton 60’), Naylor (Forsyth 60’); Eustace (Ward 60’), Hughes (Bunjaku 45’), Hendrick (Hanson 45’); Bennett (Lowe 60’), Sammon (Martin 60’), Dawkins (Russell 45’) (Calero 72’)
Substitute not used: Thomas.