Rams make it two out of three in 2014/15 pre-season schedule.Second-half goals from Jamie Ward and Mason Bennett saw Derby County overcome Nuneaton Town 2-1 and secure their second victory of their 2014/15 pre-season schedule.
Northern Ireland international Ward got the ball rolling in the 51st minute, when his cross-come-shot from the left wrong footed goalkeeper Reice Charles-Cooke and flew into the net.
Academy graduate Bennett made sure of the victory 25 minutes later, when he leapt highest to connect with Lee Naylor’s cross and send a looping header over former Ram Saul Deeney in the Boro goal.
The hosts grabbed a consolation strike back in the 89th minute when trialist Nick Wright cut in from the left and curled the ball past Kelle Roos, although it was too late for an onslaught on the Rams’ goal.
Head Coach Steve McClaren eased Richard Keogh and Jeff Hendrick back into match action from the off at the Sperrin Brewery Stadium, after the duo, along with Simon Dawkins, were granted extended leave following their exploits on international duty over the summer.
Midfielders Will Hughes and John Eustace were also handed their first starts of the Rams’ 2014/15 pre-season schedule, after missing out on the side’s opening fixtures with niggles.
The Rams controlled possession early on, with Ward and Johnny Russell dovetailing to great effect in the opening half-an-hour, with the former’s movement in particular proving a continual thorn in the hosts’ side.
However it was Republic of Ireland international Hendrick who had the first sight of goal, firing straight into the midriff of Nuneaton goalkeeper Charles-Cooke after being teed up by Hughes.
Shortly after the quarter-of-an-hour mark the Rams came closer to breaking the deadlock as Craig Forsyth’s pinpoint diagonal pass picked out the run of Russell. The Scotsman raced towards goal but he could not get the better of ‘keeper Charles-Cooke, who thwarted the forward at his feet.
The Rams did not quite have it all their own way in the first-half however, as on the stroke of the interval, Nuneaton striker Andy Brown sent a deft header inches past Roos’ far post.
In the Rams’ previous two fixtures, McClaren had named an entirely different starting XI for each 45 minutes, however, the former England boss changed tact against Nuneaton, making just four changes at the break with Keogh, Hendrick, Hughes and Eustace making way.
Giving the majority of the starting line-up an hour of football meant the flow of the game was not disrupted shortly after half-time, as the Rams retained their fluency, which even led to the visitors taking the lead, as Ward’s cross-come-shot curled into the net.
On the 60-minute-mark, McClaren implemented the remainder of his outfield substitutions, as trialists Eros Medaglia and Ivan Calero were given an opportunity to impress.
And 16 minutes later, fellow substitute Bennett completed the scoring. The 17-year-old rose highest at the far post to send Naylor’s cross over Deeney and into the net, despite Gavin Cowan's best efforts on the goal line.
Nuneaton did go on to grab a goal back in the final minute, as Wright cut in from the left and curled a close-range effort past Roos – although in stoppage time it was actually the Rams who looked more likely to add to their tally, with substitute Sammon firing narrowly wide.
Derby County: Roos (GK); Freeman (Medaglia 60’), Buxton (O’Brien 60’), Keogh (Whitbread 45’), Forsyth (L. Naylor 60’); Eustace (Hason 45’), Hendrick (Dawkins 45’), Hughes (Bunjaku 45’); Russell (Bennett 60’), Ward (Calero 60’), Martin (Sammon 60’).
Substitutes not used: Etheridge (GK), Thomas.
Attendance: 760 (211 away supporters).
Tweets by @ dcfcofficial