Tom Lawrence scored his first Derby County goal as Gary Rowett’s side secured a comfortable 2-0 victory against Queens Park Rangers at Pride Park Stadium.
Matej Vydra’s ninth goal in all competitions this season gave Derby the lead on the stroke of half-time, before Lawrence delighted the home fans by opening his account for the Rams with a sweetly struck shot.
It was a comfortable night for Rowett's side, and they had an added bonus when the exciting 18-year-old Luke Thomas was brought on for his first team debut.
Chances were few and far between in the first half, but Lawrence was bright on the left-hand side for the hosts, demonstrating the trickery and directness that made him such a threat against Fulham at the weekend.
Joel Lynch floated a header over the crossbar with just over half an hour gone, but that was the closest that Ian Holloway’s side came in a quiet first period.
Derby were struggling to create as well, but they landed a crucial blow in first half stoppage time.
Tom Huddlestone’s perfectly weighted ball played Andi Weimann clean through, and the winger unselfishly squared for Vydra to tap home and make it 1-0 to the Rams.
QPR attempted to take control after the break but they still couldn’t test Scott Carson, and they were made to pay just eight minutes after the restart as Derby doubled their lead.
Weimann found space once again before finding Vydra, who in turn laid the ball off to Lawrence, and the Wales international fired into the bottom right corner from just outside the area to register his first goal for the club.
The Rams were now playing some superb football and it could’ve been three just minutes later but Alex Smithies saved well from David Nugent.
Rowett’s side continued to press with Lawrence at the heart of everything going forward, and the wideman could have sealed a brace but Smithies again was equal to the effort, before Weimann struck just wide from the rebound.
Chris Martin came on for Nugent late on and he went close to putting the icing on the cake, but a solid recovering challenge by Alex Baptiste stopped him in his tracks as he raced towards goal.
Derby have now won their last four at Pride Park against QPR, whilst the visitors are now without a win in their last 16 away league games.
Derby County: Carson; Baird, Keogh, Davies, Forsyth; Huddlestone, Ledley; Weimann, Vydra (Thorne, 78’), Lawrence (Thomas, 88); Nugent (Martin, 78’).
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Pearce, Wisdom, Russell.
Queens Park Rangers: Smithies; Baptiste, Lynch, Robinson; Wszolek, Freeman, Scowen, N’Gbakoto (Washington, 54’), Bidwell; Mackie, Wheeler (Smith ,64’).
Substitutes not used: Lumley, Manning, Petrasso, Chair, Sylla.
A poor first half was lit up by a superb piece of counter-attacking from the Rams with just seconds to go until the break.
Huddlestone displayed his passing ability once again with a great pass to release Weimann, and the Austrian was unselfish in playing the ball across to the in-form Vydra, who made no mistake to slot home.
Lawrence has had to wait a while for his first Derby goal but he finally got his name on the scoresheet on his 16th appearance for the club.
The forward deserves credit for his creative influence up to this point but that first goal is crucial for any player, and he got it here with a fine finish from outside the area.
Once again, his overall game was superb throughout, but Lawrence will hope that this is the moment where the floodgates open.
The Rams are back in action on Saturday (25th November) when they face Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium, before coming back to Pride Park for the rearranged fixture against Ipswich Town on Tuesday (28th November).
The final game of this frantic period of fixtures is against Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion on Saturday 2nd December, again at Pride Park.