Youthful Rams beaten at the b2net Stadium in their final pre-season friendly.

Youthful Rams beaten at the b2net Stadium in their final pre-season friendly.

Derby County rounded off their pre-season preparations with a 3-1 defeat at League 2 Chesterfield.

As expected, Nigel Clough left out a large number of first-team players with Tuesday’s Capital One Cup clash with Scunthorpe United in mind, and a brace from Jordan Bowery and a first-half strike from Marc Richards condemned an understrength Rams side to defeat at the b2net Stadium - with Steven Davies pulling a goal back in injury time.

Adam Lezgdins, Tom Naylor, James Bailey, Jeff Hendrick, Ben Davies, Conor Doyle and Jamie Ward were the only players in the starting XI to have first-team experience under their belts, while trialists Valentin Gjokaj, Danny Berrera and Roope Riski were handed a chance to impress.

Riski, the latest trialist on board with the Rams this summer, is a Finland under-21 international striker who joined up with the Club yesterday and has first-team experience in Italy and Norway. He linked up in attack alongside Berrera, who flew over from the USA at the start of this week to begin a trial stint with Derby.

Hendrick and Ward were included in the side as they will miss the Scunthorpe game owing to international call-ups, and Hendrick lined up in an unfamiliar central defensive role against the Spireites. Steven Davies meanwhile was involved for the first time during pre-season as a substitute having missed all of the Rams’ pre-season dates prior to this afternoon due to being transfer listed.

Kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes with a number of fans queuing outside as 3pm approached, but once the game got underway Derby were quick out the blocks with Riski making a bright impact early on with a forceful run down the right which resulted in a few stepovers and a shot at goal which Tommy Lee blocked well.

Chances were few and far in the first half at the b2net Stadium, while proceedings were held up for around five minutes after Hendrick was carried off on a stretcher after falling awkwardly near the halfway line. He was treated for around five minutes before play eventually got underway, and he was replaced by Josh Lelan while Steven Davies made his first appearance of pre-season by replacing Michael Hoganson at left-back at the same time.

The Rams had a golden chance to take the lead on 32 minutes when Ward got away down the left and crossed to Ben Davies at the far post, but the midfielder wasn’t able to get a clean connection on the Northern Irishman’s cross and Lee gathered easily in the home goal.

With the first half coming to a conclusion, Chesterfield broke the deadlock eight minutes before the break when Richards lashed home from 12 yards. After his initial shot was well saved by Legzdins, the former Port Vale forward reacted first to sweep a right-footed volley past the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.

The Rams survived a late scare in added time in the first period when Danny Whittaker’s cross-shot deceived Legzdins, but luckily the ball rebounded back off the crossbar and away to safety.

The second half kicked off with Clough opting to move Steven Davies into his more natural striking position after stepping in at left-back when Hoganson was replaced midway through the half, which saw Ben Davies and Naylor operate at right and left back.

Richards looked to double his tally for the hosts straight after the break but he could only poke wide from Westcarr’s left-wing cross, and it proved to be his final involvement as the front pairing were substituted soon afterwards.

Steven Davies side-footed wide soon afterwards and on the hour Derby introduced 16-year-old Mason Bennett off the bench to partner last season’s joint-top goalscorer in attack, but it was Legzdins who was the busier of the goalkeepers by pulling off two fine saves to deny Scott Boden and Whittaker at full stretch.

But he was beaten by Bowery with 15 minutes left to play as the substitute rose highest to head home substitute Tendayi Darikwa’s right-wing cross past the helpless Rams goalkeeper, and the striker went on to get a second late on when he was played clear on goal.

Those two strikes killed off any hope of a Derby comeback, but there with so many first-teamers given the weekend off the result this afternoon will give Clough and his backroom team little concern ahead of the start of the campaign. 

Derby did at least pull a goal back in added time, when Ward burst away down the left to cross for Steven Davies to tap home at the near post - but his strike was nothing more than a consolation.

Derby County: Legzdins, Naylor, Hoganson (S Davies 26), Bailey (Dales 67), Gjokja (Adams 89), Hendrick (Lelan 26), B Davies, Barrera (Richards 73), Riski (Bennett 60), Doyle, Ward.

Subs: Morch

Chesterfield: Lee (O'Donnell 46), Forbes, Trotman (Darikwa 64), Hird, Smith (Boden 56), Talbot (Waful 78), Togwell (Clay 64), Allott (Randall 56), Whitaker (Hazel 74), Richards (Lester 53), Westcarr (Bowery 53).

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