Martin at the double as Derby wrap up their pre-season programme with a home win.
Derby County concluded their pre-season programme in the lead-up to the 2014/15 season with a 2-0 victory against Scottish outfit Rangers at the iPro Stadium.
A second-half double from recently-capped Scotland international striker Chris Martin helped Derby on their way to a seventh win from nine pre-season games.
He found the net in 57nd minute to open the scoring and went on to add his second with 18 minutes left to play.
Rangers had defender Bilel Mohsni sent off late on for an off the ball incident in what proved to be an entertaining friendly encounter.
Derby were forced to shuffle their defensive line-up for the game as Jake Buxton was ruled out with a hip-flexor injury, so as a result Craig Forsyth moved to centre-half alongside skipper Richard Keogh and experienced former Celtic left-back Lee Naylor came into the side.
After recovering from a minor injury that forced him to miss the friendly matches with Slavija Sarajevo and Burton Albion, attacker Simon Dawkins was named in the Rams’ front three alongside Glasgow-born Johnny Russell and Martin.
The visitors, looking to achieve a third successive promotion and return to the Scottish Premiership after their demotion to the bottom tier of Scottish football two years ago, named a strong line-up in what was also their final pre-season match.
Derby started on the back foot as Rangers applied the early pressure attacking towards the South Stand, where some 8,000 visiting fans were situated.
However, the Rams had the first clear opportunity of the game through Dawkins. The Jamaica international rounded Cammy Bell in the Rangers goal after being sent clear on goal by Russell, but defender Mohsni got back in a nick of time to execute a fine sliding challenge at the expense of a corner.
Further shooting chances came and went for Jeff Hendrick, Russell and Naylor from distance soon afterwards as the Rams got into their stride.
The visitors’ first clear chance fell to Fraser Aird on 14 minutes. Former Ram Kenny Miller crossed superbly from the left, but the midfielder headed wide from a few yards out when he should really have, at least, hit the target.
After such a high-tempo start, neither side were able to continue at pace the game had started at and chances became limited until five minutes before the break, as Dawkins went close for the Rams twice in a matter of seconds.
First, from Martin’s smart pass, he had a low shot from inside blocked before his rebound effort – which was a header – was hacked off the line by Mohsni for a corner to ensure the game was goalless at the interval.
Dawkins was at the heart of Derby’s best moves throughout and, after a slow start to the second half, he went agonisingly close on 57 minutes. The former Tottenham Hotspur forward latched onto Naylor’s pass, drove into the box and thundered in a low effort which hit the post and rebounded back into play.
Barely a minute later though, the Rams did break the deadlock as last season’s leading goalscorer Martin registered his fourth pre-season goal. Unsurprisingly, Dawkins was the architect as he drew Bell from the Rangers goal following a pass from Cyrus Christie, and crossed for Martin to fire into the unguarded net from around 10 yards out with a well-executed first-time finish.
Former Dundee United forward Russell, a lifelong Celtic fan, did his upmost to get on the scoresheet against the Glasgow giants’ arch enemies, and fizzed in a superb low cross which flashed across the six-yard box shortly before he was replaced Jamie Ward with 20 minutes to go.
Derby and Martin went on to double their tally with 72 minutes on the clock as England Under 21 international Hughes drove through the visiting midfield and played the frontman in on goal, who made no mistake with a confident finish past Bell.
Moments later Martin was involved in an off-the-ball incident with Rangers Mohsni, which saw Referee Mark Heywood produce a straight red card to the defender – while Derby sought to quickly bring Conor Sammon on in place of the forward to avoid any further flashpoints.
Derby enjoyed long spells of possession in the latter stages, but by that stage their work was done with Martin’s double proved to be enough to record another pre-season victory.
Derby now just have seven days to wait until their 2014/15 Sky Bet Championship game finally gets underway, when they face newly-promoted Rotherham United at the iPro Stadium next Saturday.
Derby County: Grant, Christie, Forsyth, Bryson, L Naylor, Keogh, Dawkins, Hendrick, Martin (Sammon 75), Hughes, Russell (Ward 69).
Substitutes Not Used: Roos, Eustace, Bennett, Hanson, Bunjaku, Freeman, Calero, Santos.
Rangers: Bell; McGregor, McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace (Templeton 68); Hutton (Boyd 60), Black; Macleod, Law, Aird (Smith 60); Miller (Zaliukas 75).
Substitutes Not Used: Simonsen, Crawford, Shiels, Gallagher.
Attendance: 17,860 (8,576 Away Supporters)
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