Derby County get 2020 off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory over Barnsley with goals from striking duo Jack Marriott and Martyn Waghorn.
A bumper crowd was in attendance at Pride Park Stadium to watch the Rams and five-time Premier League winner and four-time England Player of the Year, Wayne Rooney pull on a Derby County shirt and the captains for the first time after officially becoming a Ram on January 1st.
Rooney provided the assist for the first goal when he whipped in a free-kick from the edge of the box for Marriott smash in from close range on the stroke of half-time. Barnsley were kept quiet on the attack for the majority of the game but equalised five minutes after the restart through substitute Elliot Simoes.
Martyn Waghorn then restored the Rams’ lead just two minutes later when he struck in off Andre Wisdom’s pinpoint cross.
The Rams came out the blocks quickly and put their mark on the game. Within ten minutes their first big chance came. Max Lowe who had taken control down the left flank, won the ball back on the halfway line and slotted the ball in to the path of Waghorn.
The forward continued the run down the left before firing a cross to Marriott, but the striker swung his effort just wide of the far post.
Ten minutes later, Marriott came close again. Duane Holmes’ pass was blocked into the path of the forward who found himself one-on-one with Samuel Sahin-Radlinger, but his chipped effort was blocked by the visiting keeper.
Barnsley’s best chance of the half came just before the half-hour mark when Conor Chaplin played a dangerous ball into the box. Alex Mowatt was in front of goal, but Ben Hamer was there to quickly get down on the ball before Mowatt could shoot.
In the final minute of the half, the Rams took the lead and Marriott got the goal he had been threatening to get. Rooney whipped in a free-kick from the edge of the box and Marriott got infront of his man to lash in to the back of the net with his right foot.
Derby’s lead was almost instantly doubled after the break, only to be denied by a brilliant save by Barnsley’s keeper who tipped Matt Clarke’s header on to the post.
The visitors drew level on the 50-minute mark after former Ram Luke Thomas’ run down the right. He laid the ball off to Jordan Williams whose cross was turned towards goal. The initial shot was blocked into the path of Simoes who scored from close range.
The Rams didn’t have to wait long to regain the lead and again, Derby’s newest member of the squad, Rooney was amongst the action. He floated a brilliant ball across to Andre Wisdom on the left who, under pressure was able to cross in before the ball went out. Waghorn was on the receiving end in the middle of the area and lashed his effort in.
In the final five minutes, Hamer was called upon to make an important save when he batted away Chaplin’s close range effort to maintain the lead before calmly scooping up a low effort from Williams moments later.
The Rams will take a break from league action as they turn their attention to the FA Cup where they will face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday.
Derby County: Hamer; Wisdom, Davies, Clarke, Lowe; Bird; Holmes, Rooney (C), Knight; Marriott (Whittaker, 82), Waghorn (Malone, 74)
Unused Subs: Roos, Forsyth, Martin, Bogle, Sibley
Barnsley: Sahin-Radlinger; Williams, Diaby, Andersen, Oduor; Mowatt (C), Halme; Thomas, Bahre (Simoes, 26), Chaplin; Schmidt (Brown, 52)
Unused Subs: Collins Dougall, Styles, Sibbick, Mottley-Henry