Derby County’s 2021/22 season preparations continued on Saturday afternoon as their trip to Salford City ended in a 2-1 defeat.
It was another chance for Wayne Rooney’s side to put into practice what they have been working on on the training pitches at Moor Farm while 20 players were able to get game minutes under their belts against the Sky Bet League Two side, who are managed by ex-Derby Academy coach Gary Bowyer.
Max Bird got his second 90 minutes of pre-season, while free agent Richard Stearman also got a full game under his belt.
Despite the Rams having the better of the chances in the first half, as they showed positive creative play, it was the Ammies who took the lead through Josh Morris’ converted penalty, after a foul by Ravel Morrison, which was their only chance of the opening 45 minutes.
Salford doubled their lead early in the second half through Tom Elliott’s header, before a good move by Derby ended in an own goal by Jordan Turnbull to give the Rams something for the attacking efforts throughout the game.
The Rams’ creativity almost came to fruition twice within 60 seconds inside the opening ten minutes. First, Max Bird found an opening in the midfield to slot the ball through to Colin Kazim-Richards on the right side of the area. He quickly whipped in a cross towards the back-post, but it was slightly too heavy for captain Tom Lawrence to connect.
Soon after, the pressure was applied again, with the right side again being the centre of the threat. Nathan Byrne fired a cross in front of goal. Kazim-Richards got an initial touch that was blocked, and sent to Morrison at the far post, but his header was blocked.
Another chance fell for the Rams in the 19th minute when the ball was cut back to Tom Carroll, another free agent playing for the side, who curled an effort inches wide from 20 yards out.
Straight down the other end, Salford were awarded a penalty when Morrison caught the legs of the Tylor Golden as he slid in to clear the ball from the area. Morris stepped up to the spot and drove the effort down the middle and past David Marshall to give the hosts the lead.
With just over ten minutes to play in the half, Derby showed another bright glimpse of creativity. A brilliant run by Morrison saw him skip past his defender and slip the ball through to Sone Aluko from the halfway line. Aluko burst forward into the box and looked to chip into the left corner, but the Salford defender got a slight touch to send the effort just wide.
Aluko was a danger to the hosts again just minutes later after Lawrence’s cross was headed back across goal by a defender to the Derby forward. Aluko went one-on-one with his marker and after faking a shot with his left foot, switched to his right to take aim from a tight angle, but his shot was palmed away from close-range. Lawrence also had a long range shot saved before the half was up.
A raft of changes came at half-time for Rooney’s side, with just Bird, Stearman, Aluko and Morrison staying on the pitch from the first half.
Just six minutes into the second half, Salford doubled their lead. Golden floated a cross in to the area for Elliott to steer a powerful header past Ryan Allsop.
An opportunity for the Rams to pull one back came with 20 minutes left to play as they continued to get into good attacking areas.
Craig Forsyth played the ball through in the area to Sam Baldock, who went clear on goal. Just as it looked as though the striker would take the ball around the goalkeeper, he opted to pass to Morrison, who was caught off-guard and the chance passed Derby by.
A good move saw Derby eventually get on the scoresheet with less than ten minutes left to play. Bird, again with space found Louie Sibley just outside the area. He quickly played wide to Forsyth who sent a first-touch inviting cross in front of goal. With Festy Ebosele waiting at the back post, Turnball stuck his leg out, but stuck the ball into his own net.
A late chance for an equaliser came when the Rams were awarded a free-kick when Ebosele was tripped down the right of the area as he made a run. Graeme Shinnie sent the set-piece into the crowded goal-mouth and the effort was punched away by King.
That was the last action and Derby now have a couple of training days ahead of them before Wednesday's pre-season friendly at home to Spanish side Real Betis (7pm kick-off).
Salford City: King, Touray, Lowe, Eastham (Trialist, 74), Elliott (Hunter, 60), Morris, Turnbull, McAleny, Golden, Henderson, Trialist (Trialist, 60)
Unused Substitutes: Torrence, Burgess, N’Mai
Derby County: Marshall (Allsop, 45), Byrne (McDonald, 45), Jagielka (Wisdom, 45), Stearman, Buchanan (Forsyth, 45), Bird, Carrol (Shinnie, 45), Aluko (Sibley, 72), Lawrence (Hutchinson, 45), Morrison (Ebosele, 72), Kazim-Richards (Baldock, 45)
Unused Substitutes: None.