Under-21s secure emphatic victory over Brentford with four first-half goals...

Derby County Under-21s continued their pre-season preparations with a rousing 4-0 victory over Brentford, with all four goals arriving in the first-half as the side ran riot in the opening 45 minutes.
Goals from Josh Lelan, Mason Bennett and a double from Callum Ball wrapped up the win, as the Under-21s secured their second victory in seven days, following last week’s 2-1 triumph over Leicester City at Moor Farm.
Central defender Lelan powered home a header after 16 minutes, although the Rams could have been ahead inside the opening three minutes when Bennett latched onto a sloppy back-pass, but the 17-year-old could not get the better of the visiting goalkeeper.
Then midfielder Andy Dales saw his clever turn and shot beaten away, before Derby doubled their advantage in the 21st minute after Bennett was felled in the penalty area. Strike partner Ball took responsibility from 12-yards as he coolly nestled the spot-kick into the bottom corner.
The Rams continued to dominate in what was a pulsating first-half display, with right-back Kieron Freeman close to getting in on the action with a determined run and acrobatic effort from the edge of the penalty area.
However, it was Bennett who remained a real thorn in Brentford’s side, as the England youth international terrorised the back-four with his direct running – and the 17-year-old almost grabbed a third for the home side when he latched onto Dales’ clever pass, only to be denied by the onrushing Brentford shot-stopper.
But Bennett did not have to wait long for his first of the afternoon, as in the 41st minute the youngster picked up Ball’s low cutback and calmly drilled the striker’s pass into the net.
Bennett’s foil for the afternoon, Ball soon added a fourth when the former Coventry City loanee brought down Niall Dawkins’ lofted pass before rifling the ball into the bottom corner in the 43rd minute.
Before the half was up, Lelan almost netted his second of the afternoon when he struck the foot of the post following central defensive partner Sam Berry’s hooked cross.
Opportunities remained at a premium in the second half as Brentford upped the tempo of their game in order to match the Rams’ intensity, and try to find a way back into the match.
But despite the Bees’ best efforts, Derby remained disciplined and actually looked most likely to find the back of the net, as Ball had a fierce strike turned round the post, whilst Dales had an effort blocked on its way to goal.
Next up for the Rams’ Under-21s is a trip to Corby Town on Saturday (3:00pm kick-off), prior to a home friendly with Notts County on Thursday 8th August (11:00am kick-off) and an away outing against Mickleover Sports on Tuesday 13th August (7:45pm kick-off).
Derby County Under-21s starting line-up: Deeney; Freeman, Lelan, Berry, Andrews; Dales, Hanson, Dawkins, Thomas; Ball, Bennett.