Louie Sibley scored a wonderstrike on his full Championship debut before a Chris Martin double lifted Derby County to a 3-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers on Sunday afternoon at Pride Park Stadium.
The 18-year-old midfielder earned his first Sky Bet Championship start after his Man of the Match performance against Manchester United in the FA Cup and midway through the half he announced his arrival to the league in stunning fashion when he struck sensationally from 25 yards.
Martin added to the lead late in the first half when Graeme Shinnie’s shot was parried away into his path and his clinically drilled his effort into the back of the net.
He completed his brace with less than ten minutes to play from the penalty spot to seal the victory and moved the Rams to five points away from the play-off spots with their second consecutive league game with three goals.
Blackburn were then reduced to ten men in injury time for John Buckley’s dangerous tackle on Curtis Davies.
Rovers started strong as they looked to jump into the play-off places with a victory. Ben Brereton got the first glimpse of the goal after nine minutes when he had space at the back post from a corner. In the six-yard box, he hit the half-volley, but sliced it over the far corner.
From there, all the chances in the half belonged to the Rams as they grew into the game. Martin came close on the 19-minute mark when he received the ball from Jason Knight on the edge of the box and curled the ball goal-bound, but Christian Walton acrobatically stretched to tip the effort over the bar.
Just minutes later, the striker was amongst the action again when he held a long ball and picked out Max Bird on the edge of the box. The young midfielder unleashed a shot that took a deflection to slow its speed and then became a comfortable save for Walton.
The opening goal was well worth the wait. In the 27th minute, Sibley got Pride Park on its feet with a wonder strike to mark his first ever professional goal. Martyn Waghorn laid the ball off to the midfielder who strode forward and pulled the trigger from 25-yards out leaving Walton without a chance as the ball thundered into the back of the net.
The Rams’ lead was doubled through another good goal with three minutes left to play in the half.
Sibley made one of his dangerous runs down the middle of the park and fed into Shinnie who tried his luck with a rocket of a strike from outside the area. Walton parried the effort away into the path of Martin and the striker rushed in at the back post and took his first-time effort superbly to fire in the second.
Derby almost killed the game off with a third moments before the half-time whistle when Waghorn was fed in and took the ball round Walton. The No. 9 fired from a tight angle and struck the far woodwa
Waghorn was the first to have a chance just four minutes into the second half after Knight was fouled and the Rams were awarded a free-kick from 25-yards out. The forward bent the effort round the wall and on-target, but the Rovers ‘keeper got a strong hand to it to tip it over.
Hamer was first called into action with just over an hour gone in the game and it was a fine and important save. Rovers’ fullback Amari’I Bell tried his luck from range, but it took a deflection and the Rams stopper had to adjust quickly to palm the effort away.
With seven minutes left to play, the Rams were awarded a penalty when Knight was hauled down in the box. Martin stepped up to the spot and coolly sent the effort low into the left of the goal to seal the three points.
Derby County: Hamer; Bogle (Whittaker, 88), Wisdom (C), Clarke, Forsyth; Bird, Shinnie; Waghorn (Davies, 76), Sibley (Marriott, 76), Knight; Martin
Unused Subs: Roos, Evans, Lowe, Malone
Blackburn Rovers: Walton; Bennett, Nyambe, Adarabioyo, Bell; Travis (Johnson, 59), Downing; Brereton (Buckley, 72), Rothwell, Armstrong; Gallagher (Graham, 72)
Unused Subs: Leutwiler, Samuel, Davenport, Rankin-Costello