Derby County eared their fifth-straight victory at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday afternoon with a 1-0 victory over Preston North End in the Sky Bet Championship.
It took just five minutes for Martyn Waghorn to find the back of the net after coming off the bench in the first half for his fifth goal of the season. Curtis Davies headed towards the back post from a corner which Waghorn nudged in.
Tom Lawrence again looked impressive and had a handful of great chances to add to the lead, but in the end the one goal was enough for all three points.
Craig Forsyth made his first Derby County appearance in over a year after working his way back from a long-term knee injury as one of two changes in Phillip Cocu’s side since their last outing. He replaced an injured Matt Clarke, while Mason Bennett replaced Jack Marriott who started on the bench.
There was no doubt that the Rams were ready and raring to go following the final international break of the year as they outshone the league’s current second placed team from the opening minute.
Within five minutes, Lawrence was looking for his third goal in the last two outings at Pride Park when he rifled a shot from 30 yards out that glanced just wide.
The visitor’s best chance of the half came on the ten-minute mark from a free-kick down the left side of the box. The delivery was low into the centre of the box to Daniel Johnson. His shot was blocked between the legs of his teammate Patrick Bauer who managed to re-adjust to fire well over from yards out.
From there, it was all Derby for the remainder of the half who looked refreshed and bright on the attack. The only blip being the loss of Graeme Shinnie and Bennett to injury in the early stages.
On the 16-minute mark, moments after replacing Shinnie, George Evans found Lawrence who went on a blistering break down the pitch. He fed the ball to Chris Martin on the edge of the box for a flick to Duane Holmes. The midfielder’s volley rattled off the crossbar.
Moments later, Lawrence was bursting down the pitch again, he took the ball from the halfway lane to the edge of the penalty area where he smashed his effort goal-bound, but Declan Rudd palmed it wide.
Waghorn entered the game in the 28th minute, and soon after the Rams were ahead. He first went one-on-one with Rudd and saw his effort pushed just over. A minute later, however, the ball was in the back of the net.
Holmes delivered a corner from the left to the near post for Curtis Davies to head on. The striker was positioned perfectly to chest in from inches out.
Ten minutes after the restart, Waghorn looked to double his tally and the Rams following a beauty of a ball by Krystian Bielik which found Waghorn alone in the right of the area, but his low shot was saved.
North End had the ball in the back of the net from a corner on the hour mark when it was turned in by Barkhuizen, however the flag was quickly raised to rule it offside.
With 20 minutes to go, Lawrence came so close to extending the lead with a wonder goal when he acrobatically volleyed inched over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
Barkuizen had another go at finding the leveller for Preston soon after letting his effort fly from range just over the top left corner.
As the Rams shifted to more defensive minded in the final ten minutes with the addition of Andre Wisdom off the bench, the visitors remained unable to draw level and Derby earned their fifth-straight home victory.
The Rams will be back in action on Tuesday night when they travel to Craven Cottage to face Fulham before returning home next Saturday to host Queens Park Rangers.
Derby County: Roos; Bogle, Davies (C), Forsyth, Lowe; Bielik, Shinnie (Evans, 15); Holmes, Lawrence, Bennett (Waghorn, 28); Martin (Wisdom, 77)
Unused Subs: Hamer, Paterson, Dowell, Marriott
Preston North End: Rudd; Fisher (Gallagher, 45) , Bauer, Davies, Rafferty; Pearson, Browne (C), Barkhuizen; Johnson, Maguire; Stockley (Bodin, 45)
Unused Subs: Ripley, Storey, Ledson, Nugent, Potts.