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Derby County recorded their first win of the 2023/24 Sky Bet League One season with a convincing 3-0 victory at Burton Albion on Saturday.

Derby took the lead early on through striker James Collins’ header and, despite creating a number of good opportunities, they had to wait until the final ten minutes to seal the win thanks to goals from Conor Hourihane and substitute Conor Washington.

The win was the Rams’ first in a competitive fixture at Burton and their performance over the 90 minutes merited all three points.

Key Moments

Head Coach Paul Warne named an unchanged starting line-up from the 2023/24 Sky Bet League One season-opener against Wigan Athletic last weekend while the only change from the matchday squad compared to a week ago was on the bench with striker Martyn Waghorn coming in for young midfielder Darren Robinson.

Derby, in their new away colours after the shirt’s unveiling yesterday, looked to stamp their authority on the contest early on and had the lead inside just seven minutes. A free-kick wide on the right was whipped into the box by the left foot of skipper Hourihane and Collins met the ball with a firm header from around six yards out to net his first goal of the season.

Collins almost turned provider for a second goal moments later as Derby went clear down the right-hand side but Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s shot from the goalscorer’s cut-back inside the box was well blocked by home goalkeeper Jamal Blackman.

A Burton corner caused some panic after 19 minutes as Derby were seriously tested for the first time from a defensive aspect. Former Ram John Brayford inadvertently directed the ball back across goal at the far post into the path of defender Sam Hughes six yards out, but his rushed effort was straight at Joe Wildsmith in the Rams’ goal.

The Brewers threw a number of corners into the Derby box as the half-hour mark closed in but the Rams’ backline stood strong and managed to get first contact on several deliveries to ease the pressure.

The half concluded with little drama as both sides, other than Collins’ early goal and Mendez-Laing’s chance seconds later, were limited to few clear opportunities in front of goal.

The second period started with Derby going close to a second. A long ball in behind the home backline was perfect for Mendez-Laing to outpace his marker but his first-time strike flashed wide of Blackman’s near post.

Another chance for the Guatemala international followed on 53 minutes after some nice link-up play with Collins but this time after driving into the box his powerful shot was blocked by Blackman at the expense of a corner.

Derby had a golden chance to get a much-craved second goal just before the hour and Mendez-Laing was again at the heart of the move. This time he burst clear down the right-wing and crossed low into the six-yard box for Max Bird but, with the goal gaping, he couldn’t adjust his feet quick enough and the chance passed the Rams by.

Derby eventually, and deservedly, put distance between the sides with just over ten minutes left. Bird weaved his way forward from midfield and laid the ball off perfectly to Hourihane 18-yards out and the Irishman delightfully curled a first-time left-foot strike into the top corner.

Warne brought Washington and Martyn Waghorn off the bench late on in place of Mendez-Laing and Hourihane and the pair combined to add a late third to the Rams' tally. Good work by Joe Ward and Waghorn eventually saw the ball find its way to Washington six yards out and he made no mistake with a clinical finish for his first Rams goal since joining from Rotherham United in the close-season.

Derby side saw out the latter stages confidently, making a raft of late changes, to pick up all three points and a clean sheet to get their season up and running.

The Teams

Burton Albion: Blackman (GK), Brayford (C), Seddon (Carayol 84), Osuilaja, Hughes, Sweeney, Power, Harper (Kamwa 73), Gordon, Helm, Caprice (Bennett 58).

Substitutes Not Used: Crocombe (GK), Chauke, Lakin, Gilligan.

Derby County: Wildsmith (GK), Forsyth (Elder 90), Hourihane (C) (Waghorn 81), Bradley, Cashin, Bird, Collins (Thompson 87), Mendez-Laing (Washington 81), Smith, Ward (Wilson 90), Nelson.

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



What’s Next?

Derby return to Pride Park Stadium for back-to-back home matches next week, starting with the visit of Oxford United on Tuesday (7:45pm kick-off) before hosting Fleetwood Town next Saturday (3pm kick-off).

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