Rams come from behind to seal the victory in pre-season thriller.Derby County fought back from 3-1 down to seal a 5-3 victory over League One side Port Vale at Vale Park in the Rams’ second pre-season friendly of 2013.
Michael Jacobs’ early penalty for Nigel Clough’s side was cancelled out by goals from Chris Robertson and a double from Tom Pope.
However, a second half resurgence from the Rams, which included spectacular strikes from Michael Hoganson and Jeff Hendrick restored Derby’s lead and sealed their second consecutive pre-season victory.
In the early exchanges, the pace of attacking trio Nathan Tyson, Conor Sammon and Jacobs were causing the home side plenty of concern, so much so, that the latter was tripped as he darted into the penalty area inside the opening two minutes.
Referee Rob Lewis had little option other than to award the penalty, penalising defender Liam Chilvers, which left Jacobs the task of converting from 12-yards, and the former Northampton Town winger coolly fired past goalkeeper Chris Neal, who guessed the right way.
The Rams almost extended their lead a minute later when Irish midfielder Hendrick saw his low drive beaten away by Neal, although the Valiants soon responded, when Kaid Mohamed nodded over from eight-yards out following a patient attacking move.
And Mohamed’s header proved a warning, as on the quarter-of-an-hour mark, Pope timed his run to the far post to perfection, as he squeezed the ball in past Lee Grant from Chris Lines’ free-kick.
However, Derby’s high-pressing style soon forced the Valiants into a mistake as Hendrick pickpocketed the ball in midfield and sent Sammon through down the left. The Irish international’s subsequent low strike was turned away by Neal, before Jacobs sent the loose ball goalwards –only for Neal produce a fine reflex save.
But despite the Rams’ dominant period, Micky Adams’ side proved clinical in attack, with two quickfire goals against the run of play.
Firstly, Derby were left ruing their inability to clear from a set-piece as a relatively unmarked Robertson headed past Grant from Lines’ corner, before Pope slipped in to hijack James O’Connor’s back-pass and slide it into the unguarded net.
Before the interval, the Rams came close to pulling a goal back when Tyson ran on to meet Sammon’s clever flick-on, only for Neal to deny the former Reading forward’s right-footed low drive.
Then Vale midfielder Doug Loft almost went one better, when his spectacular 30-yard dipping half-volley was superbly kept out by Grant.
Five minutes after the break, Rams’ left-back Hoganson must have had Loft’s effort in his mind, as the defender replicated the former Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder’s strike, although this time the ball nestled into the top corner.
And four minutes later the spectacular strikes continued as Hendrick opened up his body and curled a delightful 25-yard effort into the top corner to level the game.
Derby then flew into the ascendency as Tyson fizzed a low shot wide shortly after the hour, before a plethora of changes - that included the introduction of Jake Buxton – led to a flurry of opportunities as the former Mansfield defender headed narrowly over whilst Craig Bryson had a swerving shot clawed away.
The Rams’ dominance was soon rewarded as in the 75th minute Russell burst through on goal and thrashed the ball beyond Neal to seal his third goal in two outings.
The Scotsman almost doubled his tally for the evening when he jinked his way past two defenders in the penalty area before firing at Neal, although substitute Forsyth rounded off the win with a low strike inside the penalty area in the 83rd minute.
Derby County: Grant (Legzdins 75); Freeman (Brayford 61), Gjokaj (Buxton 61), O’Connor (Keogh 61), Hoganson (Forsyth 61); Davies (Ward 67), Hendrick (Bryson 67), Eustace (Hughes 67), Jacobs (Coutts 67); Sammon (Russell 67), Tyson (Martin 67).
Port Vale: Neal, Jones, Lines (Lloyd 83), Robertson, Chilvers (Davis 46), Loft (Griffith 83), Dodds (Myrie-Williams 76), Pope (Shuker 76), Tomlin (Hughes 76), Mohamed (Williamson 76), Duffy.
Subs not used: Johnson.
Attendance: 2,408 (including 663 visiting supporters)