Rams hit Irish opponents for six...Derby County got their 2013/14 pre-season off to a winning start with summer-signing Johnny Russell grabbing two goals in the side’s emphatic 6-1 victory over Bohemians.
The Scotsman’s double in the opening 45 minutes was followed by second-half goals from Callum Ball, Ben Davies, Paul Coutts and Conor Sammon to help seal a convincing victory at Dalymount Park.
Rams supporters had to wait just nine minutes to see new signing Russell net his first goal for the Club, as the Scottish forward pulled away from his marker inside the penalty area and swept in Michael Jacobs’ left-wing cut back.
However, the Scotsman’s and the Rams’ celebrations were initially cut short, as five minutes later, the Bohs equalised with their first effort of the game.
Defender Luke Byrne’s long ball forward was held up by Dinny Corcoran; the striker then teed up the onrushing Chris Lyons, who fired the ball beyond goalkeeper Lee Grant into the bottom corner.
Rams boss Nigel Clough implemented a 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation for the first-half, with Kieron Freeman and Michael Jacobs effectively operating as wing-backs, whilst Academy graduate Mason Bennett featured in the centre of midfield.
And it was Bennett’s youthful exuberance that carved out a sight of goal for Russell in the 26th minute, which the former Dundee United forward duly took full advantage of, as he powerfully headed the 16-year-old’s cross past Greg Murray from inside the six-yard box.
Derby almost extended their lead seven minutes later, as trialist John Eustace, playing alongside Richard Keogh and Jake Buxton in defence, saw his header flash wide of goal following Jacobs’ free-kick.
However, the Bohs came even closer to scoring in the 37th minute, when the lively left-back Byrne found Lyons in the penalty area, only for the forward to crash his strike off the crossbar.
It was a physical opening for the Rams - who were donning their new 2013/14 home kit for the first time - with the Bohs 20 games into their Airtricity League campaign.
As planned, Clough fielded a different side in the second-half, with first-team regulars Conor Sammon, Jamie Ward, John Brayford and Jeff Hendrick all introduced, as well as summer signing Craig Forsyth.
The plethora of changes did not disrupt the Rams’ attacking potency – far from it in fact, as Derby stormed into a three goal lead with two strikes in the space of 60 seconds.
Firstly, 20-year-old Ball pinched the ball off of a dallying Bohs central defender in the penalty area, before squeezing it into the net from a tight angle in the 49th minute.
Then just one minute later, another defensive error allowed Sammon time and space down the left-hand side. The Irishman coolly rolled the ball across goal for Davies, who rifled it into the net from eight-yards out.
Former Derry City striker Sammon almost made it 5-1 shortly before the hour mark, when he picked up Jamie Ward’s cleverly threaded through ball, only to see his subsequent curling strike superbly kept out by Dean Marshall.
The Rams’ most aesthetically pleasing goal of the afternoon arrived in the 76th minute, when Coutts sent a thunderous volley into the top corner from 30-yards, with both sets of supporters rising to their feet to applaud the former Preston North End midfielder's strike.
Three minutes after Coutts’ strike had nestled into the back of the net Derby struck their sixth of the afternoon, as Sammon crept ahead of his marker at the near post to nod in Davies’ right-wing corner from close range to round off the victory.
Derby County (first-half): Grant, Keogh, Eustace, Buxton, Freeman, Hughes, Bryson, Jacobs, Bennett, Martin, Russell.
Derby County (second-half): Legzdins, Gjokaj, Brayford, Forsyth, Hanson, Hendrick, Ball, Davies, Ward, Sammon, Coutts.