Derby County’s preparations for
the 2017/18 Sky Bet Championship season continued with a 2-0 victory at
National League side Macclesfield Town on Saturday afternoon.
Bradley Johnson and Mason Bennett scored second half goals in what was another satisfactory workout for the Rams at Moss Rose.
Manager Gary Rowett once again decided to spread the match minutes across his first-team squad as everyone got 45 minutes under their belts, with the exception of youngster Jamie Hanson who played the entire game at centre-back.
Defender Richard Keogh and striker Matej Vydra were sidelined with minor injuries which Rowett wasn't prepared to risk, but the versatile Ikechi Anya returned to the fold after illness after missing the 4-0 win at Kidderminster Harriers on Tuesday and featured in the second half.
The Rams operated in a 4-2-3-1 system over the course of the game, after doing the same at Kidderminster in midweek.
The first half proved to be a lively one and Derby went close to opening the scoring on several occasions inside the opening 15 minutes.
Strikers Darren Bent and David Nugent both forced decent saves from home goalkeeper Alex Gogic, while defender Curtis Davies hit the post with a header from a corner and Nick Blackman also shot wide from the edge of the box.
Macclesfield’s main threat going forwards in the first half was Scott Burgess and he twice got into dangerous areas in and around the penalty box in the opening half hour, but couldn’t find his shooting range to seriously test Jonathan Mitchell in the Derby goal.
Chances became more limited as the half wore on, but the Rams were once again denied by Gogic eight minutes before half time. The goalkeeper, from point-blank range, managed to guide Nugent’s overhead kick from Blackman’s cross away from goal with his outstretched leg.
That proved to be the last noteworthy moment of the opening period before the Rams made ten changes at the interval.
Bennett was one of those to feature in the second half, on his 21st birthday, and nearly marked the special day with a fine goal but his long-range shot was saved by the hosts’ substitute goalkeeper Andrew Dawber.
Chances remained limited in the second period, despite Derby getting into some good attacking areas and getting the ball up to Chris Martin quickly.
However, the Rams finally made the breakthrough on 71 minutes.
Johnson looked to play a free-kick in behind the home defence towards Andreas Weimann which was intercepted, but he was onto the loose ball quick as a flash and thundered a low effort from distance into the bottom corner with his left foot.
Bennett then got in on the act to get the birthday goal he craved on 81 minutes with a close-range header into the bottom corner from Martin’s knock-down to round off a good afternoon's work.
It could have been three soon afterwards, but Weimann curled a fine effort from the edge of the box just wide with his left-foot late on.
With more minutes in the tank, two victories, six goals scored and none conceded there's no doubt Rowett will be content with the progress Derby are making at this stage of pre-season - but with the view that there's plenty more to come.
preparations are set to crank up a notch in the next week with the
double-header at Doncaster Rovers and Port Vale on Tuesday - before
heading to Germany to face Kaiserslautern a week today.
Macclesfield Town: Gogic, Hodgkiss, Fitzpatrick, Lowe, Wilson, Durrell, Lloyd, Kerr, Arthur, Burgess, Richards
Substitutes: Little, Meppen-Walter, Phillips, Dawber, Hancox, Kennedy, Marsh, Storer, Brodie, Okosieme, Fenwick
Derby County First Half XI: Mitchell; Wisdom, Hanson, Davies (C), Forsyth; Bryson, Butterfield; Russell, Nugent, Blackman; Bent
Derby County Second Half XI: Carson; Baird, Hanson, Pearce (C), Olsson; Johnson, Elsnik; Bennett, Weimann, Anya; Martin
Substitutes: Roos, Macdonald, Rawson, Gordon, Zanzala