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Derby County’s 2023/24 Sky Bet League One season got under way with a 2-1 defeat against Wigan Athletic at Pride Park Stadium.

Charlie Wyke’s goal after 38 minutes put the visitors ahead in the first half, but Derby hit back to equalise just before the hour mark through defender Craig Forsyth’s first goal since April 2022.

Forsyth was denied a second as the Rams pushed on for a second but striker Wyke was on target again with 72 minutes played as he headed home from a left-wing cross to inflict defeat on Paul Warne's side.

Key Moments

Warne handed summer signings Sonny Bradley, Joe Ward and Curtis Nelson their first starts whilst Josh Vickers, Kane Wilson, Conor Washington and Callum Elder were all on the bench.

Tom Barkhuizen and Louie Sibley missed out with calf issues, but otherwise Warne had a fully fit squad to call on and Conor Hourihane, after being named as the Rams’ skipper on Thursday following a players’ vote, led the team into the new campaign.

On a rain drenched afternoon at Pride Park, Wigan got the contest under way and the Rams began the season attacking towards the North Stand in the opening 45 minutes.

Derby started well and had the first chance after seven minutes. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s driving run from the left saw him display a couple of step-overs before eventually picking out James Collins in the box, but the number nine’s low first-time effort with his left foot lacked power and was saved by Sam Tickle at the expense of a corner which was headed wide by the towering Bradley.

Forsyth drove an effort wide before the tenth minute as the Rams continued to power forward. Hourihane fed the Scotsman to smash in a low effort from 25 yards wide which whistled narrowly wide of Tickle’s left-hand post.

Wigan’s first chance came after 14 minutes. Callum McManaman got away down the left wing and delivered a cross into the box which picked out the Latics’ skipper Callum Lang, but he headed over when well placed.

Tickle in the visitors' goal once again denied the Rams just before the 20th minute as Mendez-Laing’s bullet drive from the edge of the penalty was pushed behind for a corner while a wonderful cross from the left a few minutes later by Forsyth narrowly missed the stretching Collins inside the six-yard box.

Thelo Aasgaard's 30-yarder whistled narrowly over Joe Wildsmith's crossbar just after the half-hour mark and, a soon afterwards, the first goal of the season at Pride Park went to the visitors. Bradley’s backpass from the halfway line was short and striker Wyke latched onto it in a flash to advance clear on goal, round Wildsmith and roll the ball into the net to send the travelling fans wild.

Wigan almost had a second before the break as Wildsmith stood tall to deny Lang after Wyke’s ball with the outside of his right foot sent the visitors’ captain in behind the Derby backline. Down the other end in the closing seconds of the half, Hourihane screwed an effort wide from around 20 yards out.

Derby went on the attack early in the second half but were frustrated in their quest to create clear opportunities until they eventually drew level just before the hour mark. Joe Ward’s cross from the right into the box was deflected towards Forsyth at the far post and the 34-year-old made no mistake in drawing the Rams level with a superb first-time volley low into the back of the net.

That goal provided a lift in Derby’s confidence and the atmosphere and Warne’s side pushed on to try and get themselves ahead with some neat approach play and build-up, but the Latics held firm to ride the wave of pressure.

Forsyth almost had a second with 20 minutes remaining with Curtis Nelson this time the provider with another cross. A superb and deep delivery from the right-hand side found the Rams’ longest-serving player at the far post but his powerful drive was blocked by Tickle before Wigan cleared the danger.

Against the run of play though, Derby went behind again on 72 minutes. Tom Pearce’s deep delivery from the left was inch perfect for Wyke around six yards out to see off the attentions of both Eiran Cashin and Wildsmith to head the ball into the back of the net.

Warne responded by making a triple to change to bring on Callum Elder, Conor Washington and Kane Wilson for their Rams debuts for the final stages inject fresh legs into the side.

Despite a late push and nine minutes of added time, Derby weren’t able to get back on level terms once again and Wigan held on to start the season with a win as they seek to overturn their eight-point deduction which was imposed on them in the summer.

The Teams

Derby County: Wildsmith (GK), Forsyth (Elder 79), Hourihane (C), Bradley, Cashin (Washington 79), Bird, Collins, Mendez-Laing (Thompson 90), Smith, Ward (Wilson 79), Nelson.

Substitutes Not Used: Vickers (GK), Robinson, Rooney.

Wigan Athletic: Tickle (GK), Pearce, Morrison, Hughes, Clare, M Smith, Wyke, Aasgaard (S Smith 84), Lang (C), Humphrys (Watts 73), McManaman (Adeeko 62).

Substitutes Not Used: Amos (GK), Sze, Balagizi, Brennan.


29,957 (2,242 away fans).

What’s Next?

Derby are back in action at Pride Park Stadium on Tuesday when they host fellow League One rivals Blackpool in Round One of the Carabao Cup (7:45pm kick-off), before returning to league action with a short trip across the A38 to Burton Albion next Saturday.

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