Luke Plange’s second half strike on his professional debut secured Derby County all three points against Blackpool at Pride Park Stadium.
The 19-year-old, who has been a regular scorer for the Under-23s this season, continued his exceptional form as he netted the only goal of the game against the Seasiders to secure Derby the win.
It was a typical strikers finish, too. He gambled at the back post as Kamil Jozwiak saw his effort tipped onto the post and Plange was on hand to poke home from close range as Wayne Rooney’s side secured all three points.
The manager was without a number of players for the game as they had to self-isolate under the strict COVID-19 protocol guidance.
Plange, who made his debut against Bristol City last weekend, earned a full league debut, whilst Dylan Williams made his first league start at Pride Park Stadium.
Blackpool had the first opportunity of the game on three minutes and maybe should have done more with their chance.
Shayne Lavery used his pace to get beyond the Rams’ backline and laid the ball back to Ryan Wintle to hit but his effort was blocked by Graeme Shinnie.
The Rams responded with an opportunity of their own soon after as Max Bird’s in-swinging free kick found the head of Curtis Davies who headed back into the path of Tom Lawrence to strike but his effort was blocked by Callum Connolly.
Plange, on his league debut, was a nuisance in attack for the Rams as he led the line well and applied pressure throughout the half.
The Rams were confident in possession but on the counter attack, Blackpool almost took the lead midway through the half as Wintle curled wide from the edge of the area.
Soon after, a cross from Blackpool full back Reece James found the head of the onrushing Lavery but Ryan Allsop saved comfortably.
That was the best it got in terms of chances in the first half as it stayed goalless until the half time interval. The break allowed both managers a chance to get instructions into their players, and it worked for the Rams as they took the lead minutes into the second half.
It was a well-worked goal, too. Lawrence got behind the defence on the left and produced a low cross for Jozwiak who had ghosted into the penalty area.
The Polish international guided the ball towards goal but Seasiders goalkeeper Chris Maxwell tipped on to the post, however, Plange gambled at the back post and tapped home from close range to put the Rams ahead and score his first professional goal for the club.
It was a great moment for the youngster who had been a bright spark throughout the afternoon and he continued to lead from the front as the Rams applied pressure to the Blackpool defence.
There was a lengthy stoppage on 70 minutes as Bird received a kick to the head as he cleared his lines, and despite trying to continue, he was forced off five minutes later as Liam Thompson entered the fray.
There was a worry for Blackpool as, having already made all three substitutions, goalkeeper Chris Maxwell went down and received treatment.
It all added to the seven minutes additional time which was announced by the fourth official at the end of the game which saw Pride Park become slightly edgy as the Rams looked to protect their one-goal advantage.
The Rams did their best to run the clock down as Blackpool attempted to fight back into the game, but Rooney’s side saw the game out confidently and professionally to gain all three points at Pride Park.
Derby County: Allsop, Forsyth, Shinnie, Jagielka, Jozwiak, Bird (Thompson 75’), Lawrence, Davies, Knight, Williams (Cashin 90'), Plange (Aghatise 90’).
Substitutes: Roberts, Stearman, Sibley, Cybulski.
Blackpool: Maxwell, Connolly, Husband, James (Keogh 45’), Dale (Yates 76’), Wintle, Anderson, Carey (Bowler 63’), Lavery, Ekpiteta, Sterling.
Substitutes: Grimshaw, Gabriel, Dougall, Hamilton.
Attendance: 21,663 (1,455 visiting supporters)