Bradley Johnson’s first half header secured a 1-0 pre-season victory for Derby County against Coventry City at Liberty Way.
It was a game short of clear openings at the home of Nuneaton Town as both sides continued to gear up for their respective league campaigns, but Johnson’s powerful finish was enough for a third win in four friendlies.
Tom Huddlestone started in typically assured fashion and he tested the Liam O’Brien inside the opening five minutes, with a fierce volley which the Coventry ‘keeper just managed to turn away from goal.
The home side had their best opportunities on the break, with Jordan Ponticelli seeing an effort blocked, before Richard Keogh headed over the bar at the other end.
Derby took the lead just after the half-hour mark and it was fully deserved.
Luke Thomas threaded the ball towards the by-line and Andre Wisdom floated an inch-perfect cross for Johnson to power the header beyond O’Brien.
Johnson went close with another headed effort shortly before the break, whilst the lively Mason Bennett had a fortunate effort roll just wide.
The Rams made 11 changes at the interval and it was Coventry’s Tom Davies that had the first chance of the half, with a header that was comfortably saved by Jonathan Mitchell.
Mason Mount was introduced and he produced a superb turn before exchanging passes with Jayden Bogle on the hour-mark, but his strike flew over the crossbar.
The midfielder hit the target moments later after another excellent team move as Derby continued their dominance of proceedings, and it could have been two when they were awarded a penalty after Bogle’s shot was handled.
Tom Lawrence stepped up, but O’Brien kept the penalty out with a solid stop down to his left.
Louie Sibley impressed on his first outing with the first team as the clock ran down with a series of committed challenges and weaving runs forward, whilst Calum Macdonald and Max Bird also appeared on a good night for the Academy.
Coventry City: O’Brien; Grimmer, Davies, Hyam, Brown; Andreu, Westbrooke, Doyle, Shipley; Ponticelli, Biamou.
Substitutes: Burge, Mason, McDonald, Hickman, Allassani, Camwell, Eccles, Clarke-Harris, Thompson.
Derby County (First-Half): Roos; Wisdom, Keogh, Macdonald, Lowe; Hanson, Huddlestone, Johnson; Thomas, Nugent, Bennett.
Derby County (Second-Half) Mitchell; Bogle, Pearce, Davies, Bird; Sibley, Ledley, Mount; Wilson, Jerome, Lawrence.
The Rams return to Pride Park Stadium for their final pre-season friendly against Wolves on Saturday (kick-off: 3pm), before the Sky Bet Championship campaign gets underway at Reading the following Friday, kick-off: 8pm.