Jason Knight had an evening he will never forget in Derby County’s final game of the decade scoring his first ever professional goals in a 2-1 victory over Charlton Athletic.
The 19-year-old has continued to impress this season after making his debut in the opening game of the campaign and deservedly bagged both of the Rams’ goals, who shone against Charlton with just ten men for the majority of the game.
The midfielder headed in at the back post to open the scoring after ten minutes. His celebrations were slightly clouded as he received treatment for a knock, but the side certainly made up for it with just more than ten minutes to go when his wonderful finish doubled the Rams’ lead. It was academy-product to academy-product with Max Bird, in his first Sky Bet Championship start at Pride Park Stadium supplying the assist.
Lyle Taylor pulled one back for Charlton in the 84th minute from the penalty spot, while Krystian Bielik was sent off after 17 minutes for a late challenge.
The Rams took the momentum from the injury time goal against Wigan and almost turned into a blistering start against Charlton with Martyn Waghorn coming close after just 20 seconds.
From the kick-off, Derby soon had the ball in the visitors half with a lovely ball from Knight through to the forward who went one-on-one with Dillon Phillips, but Charlton’s keeper made an important block for his side.
The duo didn’t have to wait long to be back in front of goal and on the ten-minute mark youngster Knight’s first senior goal gave the home side the lead. Duane Holmes found Andre Wisdom down the right flank and the full-back fizzed a powerful cross into Waghorn on the edge of the six-yard box.
Under pressure from his marker, Waghorn flicked the ball across goal for Knight to rush in and head in the opening goal.
His big moment, however was slightly dampened as he received a boot to the face as he went in for the header and received treatment rather than celebrate.
Although the Rams were fully in control in the early stages, that was threatened after 17 minutes when Bielik was shown a straight red card after a late challenge on Conor Gallagher when he attempted to recover the ball in Charlton’s half.
Being one man down didn’t seem to phase Cocu’s side for the remainder of the half with Ben Hamer only being called into action to make a comfortable grab from a heavily deflected long-range shot from Naby Sarr.
With ten minutes left to go in the half, Derby had back-to-back chances from set pieces. First, Bird’s free-kick from just outside the area was half cleared by the Addicks, but the young midfielder was able to recover the ball and sent it out wide to Marriott and the striker’s effort took a deflection to go jut over.
From the corner, the ball was knocked out to Holmes, but his volley from 20-yards out went towards the middle of the goal and into the chest of Phillips.
Five minutes after the break, chances came for both sides. First, Alfie Doughty created space outside the area before curling his effort towards the bottom right corner, which Hamer dived to keep out. From his goal kick, the Rams stopper found Marriott on the edge of the opposition box who wasn’t quite able to control the pass and sent the ball out as he flicked the ball high over his marker.
The Rams defended for a large spell to open the second half, but almost stunned the Addicks on the counter attack in the 57th minute. Bird ploughed down the middle of the park, with Marriott running ahead in plenty of space down the right. The midfielder fed out to the striker just outside the area, but Phillips blocked the effort from a tight angle.
Knight finished off a sensational evening with his second goal with just more than ten minutes remaining. Bird floated a wonderful ball over to him in the box and the 19-year-old had acres of space on the edge of the six-yard box to lash in his second of the night.
The Addicks pulled one back seven minutes later when Taylor sent his penalty kick in to the right side of the goal after Curtis Davies was adjudged to have given away a foul.
Hamer made a brilliant double saves to deny Ben Dempsey then Taylor to keep all three points in tact and sign off the decade in style.
Derby County: Hamer; Wisdom, Davies (C), Clarke, Lowe; Knight, Bielik, Bird; Waghorn (Forsyth, 90), Marriott (Whittaker, 90), Holmes
Unused Subs: Roos, Dowell, Martin, Sibley, Malone
Charlton Athletic: Phillips; Solly (C), Lockyer, Pratley, Sarr (Davison, 70), Purrington; Gallagher, Morgan, Oshilaja (Dempsey, 70), Doughty; Bonne (Taylor, 45)
Unused Subs: Maynard-Brewer, Mathews, Pearce, Ledley