Curtis Davies made his return from injury as Derby County's Under-23s beat Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 at Loughborough University Stadium.
Jacob Butterfield's superb long-range strike secured all three points for Darren Wassall's side in Premier League 2 - Division 1, but first team boss Frank Lampard also received a boost as Davies came through 70 minutes unscathed.
It was his first football since the Sky Bet Championship opener against Reading at the start of August.
The Rams dominated proceedings from the off and Brighton were content to sit on the edge of their own box and soak up pressure.
Derby's midfield three of Butterfield, Max Bird and Louie Sibley moved the ball well and it was Sibley who went closest in the first half when he struck the bar.
Jayden Mitchell-Lawson was inches away from opening the scoring just before the break but he could only head just wide.
Wassall's side had to wait until the 66th minute to break the deadlock but when they did, it was special as Butterfield hit a swerving effort beyond Steele and into the top corner.
Brighton posed more of a threat from that moment, but Derby held on to maintain their 100 per cent record at Loughborough and win their third league game of the season.
The Rams are straight back in action on Thursday, when they travel to Home Park to take on Plymouth Argyle in their Premier League Cup opener. Kick-off is at 7pm.
Derby County: Ravas; Bateman, Davies (Karic, 70'), Buchanan, Macdonald; Butterfield, Bird, Sibley (Knight, 88'); McAllister, Cresswell (Stretton, 88'), Mitchell-Lawson.
Unused Substitutes: Barnes, Eyoma.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Steele, Davies, Cox (Cochrane, 72'), Collar, Barccat, Ostigard (O'Hora, 66'), Dreyer (Normann, 79'), Davies, Connolly, Gyokeres, Tilley.
Unused Substitutes: Keto, Gwargis.