Derby County began their pre-season games programme with a convincing 4-0 victory over Vanarama National League – North side Kidderminster Harriers on Tuesday night.
David Nugent, Craig Bryson and Chris Martin scored in the first 45 minutes, before Darren Bent added to the scoreline in the second half at Aggborough Stadium.
Far from being all about the scoreline, though, what would have pleased Gary Rowett far more was his team’s performance and the fact that his players all got valuable minutes under their belts.
The Derby boss deployed a different starting XI in each half against John Eustace’s Kidderminster side and also got chance to watch summer signings Curtis Davies and Andre Wisdom in a match situation for the first time.
The Rams operated in a 4-2-3-1 system over the course of the night and looked effective going forward, particularly over the first 45 minutes.
Nugent opened the scoring as early as the eighth minute at Aggborough Stadium.
The 32-year-old had initially scuffed an early effort, but it deflected kindly back into his path to power the second attempt into the back of the net.
Bryson added a second on 17 minutes – coming after Andreas Weimann had seen a shot saved following a swift counter attack.
Bryson, the Scottish midfielder, picked up the loose ball, rounded the goalkeeper, and then kept his cool to beat the recovering defender with a lifted left foot shot.
Weimann had a chance to add to the tally, but the Austrian pulled his cross-shot wide, whilst Marcus Olsson, the Swedish left back, saw a firm drive blocked.
Martin then added a third – the pick of the first half goals.
From the left, Olsson delivered an inch-perfect cross into the path of the forward, who struck a cushioned first-time volley beyond the onrushing Kidderminster ‘keeper.
Showing a completely different starting XI for the second half, which included summer signings Davies and Wisdom, Derby picked up where they left off.
Matěj Vydra should have made it four earlier on after being picked out superbly by Johnny Russell, whilst the latter saw a shot saved too minutes later.
The quick start to the half aside, and with the hosts showing a number of changes themselves, the general pattern of the second 45 minutes lacked rhythm and resulted in genuine goalscoring chances coming far less frequently.
Towards the hour, and similar to Vydra’s chance, Bent had a chance to score earlier than he eventually did, but was denied by the feet of the Kidderminster goalkeeper after being picked out by Jacob Butterfield.
The 33-year-old did join his attacking colleagues, Nugent and Martin, on the scoresheet by cushioning in Nick Blackman’s cross from the right.
A solid performance, minutes in the legs, no injuries, a clean sheet and a win – Rowett could not have asked for a better start to their pre-season games schedule.
Derby County First Half XI: Carson, Baird, Olsson, Keogh (C), Forsyth, Bryson, Johnson, Bennett, Nugent, Weimann, Martin
Derby County Second Half XI: Mitchell, Wisdom, Pearce, Davies, Macdonald, Butterfield, Hanson, Blackman, Russell, Vydra, Bent
Substitutes not used: Ravas, Elsnik, Bird, Gordon, Zanzala
Attendance: 1,078 (488 away supporters)