Rams taste defeat in their final pre-season encounter of 2013/14.Graham Dorrans’ stunning 25-yard strike and Markus Rosenberg’s 90th minute close-range finish condemned Derby County to only their first defeat of pre-season this afternoon, as a full-strength West Bromwich Albion side sealed a narrow 2-0 victory.
Former Livingston winger Dorrans collected the ball from Chris Brunt in the 39th minute and sent an unstoppable strike into the net, prior to substitutes Rosenberg and Billy Jones linking up in the final minute, which culminated in the former tapping the ball home from two-yards out.
The Baggies began proceedings with a wealth of international experience in attack as Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long partnered Nicolas Anelka, with the latter agreeing an initial one-year contract at the Hawthorns earlier this month.
The 34-year-old, who was a free agent having spent the second half of last season at Juventus, almost had the Baggies off to a flying start when he picked up Liam Ridgewell’s low cut-back before seeing his shot well kept out by Lee Grant at his near post.
The French international forward was at the heart of another opportunity in the 15th minute, although the Rams had two half-chances of their own first with Jamie Ward having a tame shot that was comfortably held by Ben Foster, and Chris Martin nodding wide of goal from the diminutive forward’s corner.
The Baggies’ effort soon followed as Anelka’s perfectly lofted pass to Long was not quite met with the same precision as the pass, as the forward’s initial touch allowed Grant time to race off his line and palm the ball away at the Irishman’s feet.
Five minutes later Will Hughes strolled forward to the edge of the opposition’s penalty area virtually unopposed, but saw his subsequent drive clawed away by England goalkeeper Ben Foster.
The Premier League side were comfortable in possession, and although the majority of their attacks stemmed from patient, progressive build ups it was a swift counter attack that almost put Steve Clarke’s side ahead, with James Morrison sending Brunt through, only for the winger to see his low drive superbly kept out by Grant.
Although Albion arguably had the clearer sights of goal, the Rams more than matched Clarke’s outfit with their high-tempo attacking football, and Derby were unfortunate to go into half-time a goal behind.
In a slick passing move, Morrison cleverly dummied Brunt’s pass, which allowed Dorrans time and space to pick his spot and arrow a 25-yard strike into the net in the 39th minute.
In the second-half, the Rams were initially more compact and sat deeper to combat Albion’s patient playing style, but soon flowed forward in attack when Jeff Hendrick’s right-wing cross was acrobatically volleyed over by Johnny Russell.
The Scotsman was in the thick of the action minutes later as Martin sent the 23-year-old clear down the right with a terrific first-time pass. Russell scampered towards goal but was eventually crowded out by Craig Dawson.
The provider had an opportunity of his own to find an equaliser in the final 12 minutes; substitute Ben Davies stormed forward down the right and sent a low cross into the six-yard box where an under pressure Martin saw his instinctive effort roll wide.
Clough introduced Conor Sammon in the 78th minute and the striker almost had an instant impact as his clever turn on the edge of the box was met with a low shot that fizzed wide of Foster’s far post.
Sammon was at the spearhead of Derby’s final attacking move of the game as he burst into the Baggies’ penalty area and teed up Michael Jacobs, but the winger’s first-time shot was superbly tipped over by Foster.
Despite the Rams’ best efforts, Albion went on to extend their lead in the final minute of the game when Rosenberg swept fellow substitute Jones’ cross into the net to seal the 2-0 victory for the Premier League side.
Derby County: Grant (GK), Freeman (Davies 73), Buxton, Keogh, Forsyth, Hendrick, Bryson, Hughes (Jacobs 84), Ward, Martin, Russell (Sammon 78).
Subs not used: Legzdins (GK), Eustace, Gjokaj, Ball, Hoganson.
West Bromwich Albion: Foster (GK), Reid (Jones 66), Dawson, Olsson, Ridgewell, Dorrans (Rosenberg 78) Mulumbu (Yacob 66), Morrison, Brunt, Long, Anelka (Berahino 84).
Subs not used: Myhill (GK), Popov, Tamas, McAuley, Roofe.
Attendance: 7,663 (1,412 visiting supporters)