Derby County continue winning ways following 2-0 victory over League Two side Bristol Rovers

Derby County maintained their impressive 100% record in pre-season, as a goal in each half from Jamie Ward and Johnny Russell sealed a 2-0 victory over League Two side Bristol Rovers.
Northern Ireland international Ward had the Rams ahead after 23 minutes in emphatic fashion as he sent a 35-yard free-kick into the bottom corner.
Then Russell wrapped up both the win and his fourth goal in three games when he diverted Ward’s cross-come-shot past Steve Mildenhall in the 52nd minute.
Inside the opening two minutes the Rams drew the first effort at goal with a slow, patient build up that culminated in Will Hughes having a fierce drive from 20-yards, which fizzed wide.
Possession interchanged fleetingly between the two sides in the first quarter, although the hosts mustered the first real opportunity of the half when a deep left-wing cross to the far post was met by a low strike from David Clarkson, which was well kept out by Lee Grant.
Chances remained at a premium with Hughes restricted to another long-range effort, before Chris Martin followed suit with a similar strike that curled wide.
However, in the 23rd minute, the Rams’ long-range shooting paid off, as Ward and Hughes deliberated over a 35-yard free-kick, before the former took control and duly rifled the ball into the bottom corner.
The goal lifted the away side as they poured forward with back-to-back attacks – maintaining possession for long periods – as Bryson had a shot inside the penalty area that Steve Mildenhall kept out with his feet, before the Scottish midfielder came even closer moments later as his dipping volley fell narrowly wide.
It was almost third time lucky for Bryson as the former Kilmarnock midfielder latched on to Scottish compatriot Russell’s lay-off and fired a 20-yard effort that clipped the top of the crossbar.
In the final minute of the half Rovers came close to a leveller when Clarkson attempted an audacious effort from just inside the Rams’ half as he spotted Grant had strayed away from his line, however the shot-stopper backpedalled and claimed the goal-bound effort. 
Following the interval, it took the Rams just seven second-half minutes to double their advantage. Russell maintained his impressive pre-season goal tally, as Ward cut inside and saw his low shot deflected into the path of the Scottish forward, who tapped the ball home from close-range.
Derby continued to dominate in both possession and efforts at goal, with Paul Coutts coming close to extending the Rams’ lead as his drive from a tight angle was well held by Mildenhall, whilst substitute Jeff Hendrick watched on as his long-range effort flew harmlessly over.
Both sides made multiple changes in the final quarter, with the pace of the game slowing as a result, although experienced trialist John Eustace kept the pressure on in the final few minutes with a volley from distance that ricocheted wide of goal.
Conor Sammon and Ben Davies linked up late on, with the former crossing to the latter at the far post, but the ex-Notts County midfielder could only volley into the ground and wide, as the Rams settled for a 2-0 victory and continued their fine pre-season form with a good workout against the Gas.
Derby County: Grant (Legzdins 79) (GK); Brayford, Buxton (Gjokaj 79), Keogh (Hoganson 79), Forsyth; Coutts (Eustace 74), Bryson (Sammon 74), Hughes (Bennett 79), Ward (Hendrick 67); Martin (Jacobs 74), Russell (Davies 67).
Attendance: 1,945 (including 281 visiting supporters).