Rams seal fourth successive pre-season victory.Derby County’s fine pre-season form continued against Burton Albion this evening, as a goal in each half from Chris Martin and Conor Sammon proved decisive at the Pirelli Stadium.
Summer recruit Martin, who was a menace all evening linking play, slid Craig Forsyth’s cross into the net in the 44th minute, before Sammon stooped at the far post to nod in Michael Hoganson’s left-wing cross late on to seal the side’s fourth straight victory during the 2013/14 pre-season schedule.
Prior to Sammon’s 90th minute header, substitute Michael Jacobs had the opportunity to double the side’s advantage when the winger won and took an 82nd minute spot-kick, however the former Northampton Town midfielder saw his effort from 12-yards palmed away by goalkeeper Chris Dunn.
In a slow paced opening, Jamie Ward had the first effort at goal in the fourth minute when his 20-yard free-kick fizzed over the crossbar.
Rams boss Nigel Clough implemented a 4-3-3 formation at the Pirelli Stadium, with trialist John Eustace in a defensive midfield role and Johnny Russell, Jamie Ward and Chris Martin forming a three-pronged attack.
Derby had to remain patient for their breaks and entries into the host’s penalty area, although Clough’s men did enjoy plenty of possession – with one particular move ending in Martin seeing a snap shot well held by goalkeeper Dean Lyness.
First-half opportunities for the Brewers were few and far between, however, Gary Rowett’s men almost went ahead with their first and best chance of the half as a startled Lee Grant parried Michael Symes’ point-blank header away to safety.
Symes’ effort was as close as Burton came to a goal in the first 45 minutes, as the Rams continued to control possession, and another patient move from Derby culminated in Forsyth teeing up John Brayford in the penalty area, only for the right-back to send a curling strike narrowly wide.
However, on the stroke of half-time, the Rams’ persistence was rewarded when Forsyth’s low cross found Martin in the penalty area, and the striker coolly swept the ball past Lyness to hand Derby a deserved lead.
The Brewers made four changes at the break with Dunn, Dominic Kowles, Marcus Holness and Adam Reed all introduced, whilst Clough resisted any temptation to make substitutions, with the Rams boss revealing prior to kick-off that the game would be used to hand a large selection of players the full 90 minutes.
However, one of the Brewers’ substitutes Reed, almost had the home side level within minutes of the restart, as the former Sunderland midfielder slid in to divert the ball goalwards – forcing Grant into a superb one-handed reflex stop.
The Rams reacted and stormed forward in search of their second of the evening, with midfielder Will Hughes going close with a dipping volley, before Ward saw his fierce 20-yard drive beaten away by Dunn.
Clear-cut opportunities remained limited in the second half, with Burton's only real sight at goal - following Reed’s effort – falling to Chris Hussey, but the left-back’s right-footed effort was comfortable for Grant.
But in the 82nd minute, Derby had the chance to double their advantage and see the game out when Jacobs darted into the box before being tripped by Ian Sharps.
The former Northampton Town winger dusted himself down and looked confident as he stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick, but unlike his successful penalty against Port Vale last week, Jacobs watched on as Dunn clawed his effort away.
Fortunately, Jacobs’ missed penalty did not prove crucial, as with just stoppage time remaining, Sammon eased away from his marker and nodded in Hoganson’s deep left-wing cross to ensure the victory for Derby.
Derby County: Grant (GK); Brayford, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Eustace (Davies 68), Hendrick (Freeman 83), Hughes (Hoganson 86); Russell (Sammon 68), Ward (Jacobs 62), Martin (Bennett 80).
Subs not used: Legzdins.
Burton Albion: Lyness (Dunn 46) (GK), Edwards, Hussey (Harness 77), Delap (Holness 46), Sharps, Bell (Doyle 86), Howe (Dyer 61), MacDonald (Reed 46), McCrory, Palmer (Phillips 61), Symes (Knowles 46).
Subs not used: Currie.