Derby County Under-23s cruised to a 4-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle in the Premier League Cup at Loughborough University Stadium.
The win kick-started the second round of fixtures in the group stage cup competition for the Rams and solidified their place in second behind Aston Villa.
Following a goalless draw between the sides at Home Park in October, there was no doubt that Derby would take the three points in the reverse fixture after a dominating performance and devastating first-half for the Pilgrims.
On his return from loan at Mansfield Town, Timi Elsnik rifled in a stunning shot from long-range to set the tone before Cameron Cresswell added his second brace in as many games.
His first, a flying header latching on to Kellan Gordon’s cross and his second after being set up by Jayden Mitchell-Lawson.
Josh Shonibare concluded the scoring coolly tucking away from close range in his second start for Darren Wassall’s side.
The Rams dictated play from the opening whistle and a destructive couple of minutes unravelled the visitors and saw Derby race out to a 2-0 lead.
Elsink announced his return from loan with a stunning strike from outside the area after ten minutes.
Just four minutes later, Derby had doubled their lead through the team’s leading goalscorer, Cresswell. Kellan Gordon drove down the right channel before whipping a strong cross into the box for the striker to dive into and reverse his header past Mike Cooper.
Calum Macdonald almost added further destruction just two minutes later by adding another wonderful free-kick to his resume. But his effort from 25-yards out whistled just over the crossbar.
Plymouth struggled to break Darren Wasssall’s side down and push forward against Derby’s suffocating high-press.
Another two goals came in the space of two minutes for the Rams to pull themselves out of reach by half-time. Jayden Mitchell-Lawson did excellently to win the ball back from the Pilgrims in their box before cutting back to Cresswell. The Rams’ no. 9 stuttered before tucking his left-footed shot past Cooper.
Moments later, in his second start for the Rams, Shonibare drove into the box before a quick andclever one-two with Cresswell. The wideman then shifted to his left to fire in the Rams’ fourth.
Derby continued as the superior team to start the second-half and despite being 4-0 down, Plymouth didn’t risk pushing forward. With a comfortable lead and holding the lions-share of possession, the Rams ran out the game as comfortable winners.
Derby County: Ravas, Gordon, Macdonald, Bird (C), Bateman, Wassall (Hunt, 45), Mithell-Lawson (Eyoma, 66), Elsnik, Cresswell, Babos (Al-Hussiani, 76), Shonibare
Unused Subs: Barnes, Karic
Plymouth Argyle: Cooper, Moore, Law, Purrington, Bentley, Grant, Fletcher, Garside(Peck, 65), Dyson, Battle, Goulty (Randell, 45)
Unused Subs: Hodges, Townsend, Lolos,