Derby County returned to winning ways in Sky Bet League One with a convincing 3-0 home victory over Port Vale.

Louie Sibley’s goal after five minutes put Derby in the driving seat and striker Dwight Gayle netted his first Rams goal just before half time to double the side’s lead.

Sibley added another ahead of the hour mark to take his tally for the campaign to seven in all competitions and ensure the Rams picked up all three points at Pride Park Stadium.

The victory keeps Derby in second place in the League One table with ten matches remaining in the 2023/24 season.

Key Moments

Head Coach Paul Warne made three changes from the 2-1 home reverse against Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night with Sibley, Tom Barkhuizen and Joe Ward the trio that came into the side.

Defender Ryan Nyambe missed out after suffering an injury in the early stages of the second half against the Addicks while captain Conor Hourihane was back after a slight hamstring issue and took his place on the bench. Kane Wilson and Korey Smith, who both started against Charlton, reverted to the bench.

Derby attacked towards the North Stand in the opening 45 minutes and started positively as they looked to put the back-to-back losses to Barnsley and Charlton in the last week firmly behind them.

With five minutes on the clock, the Rams were rewarded for their strong start as they took the lead. Ward did well down the right-hand side to advance forward and he delivered a low ball across the box which found Sibley lurking just inside the penalty area. Sibley unleashed a first-time shot with his left foot which, via a deflection off Vale defender Kacper Lopata, found its way into the back of the net.

Derby’s strong start continued with defender Curtis Nelson heading over from a corner while forward Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and midfielder Max Bird forced saves from Connor Ripley in the visiting goal. As the first half edged towards the halfway stage, Barkhuizen had an opportunity from close-range as he lifted the ball over the crossbar from another Ward cross.

Vale started their first real period of pressure just after the half hour mark with a smart passage of play down the right. The move ended with Gavin Massey crossing low, which forced Nelson into conceding a corner from inside the six-yard box. The corner itself was cleared, but Vale kept the pressure on for a good five minutes or so to test Derby defensively with several balls into the box.

After riding Vale’s spell of pressure well, the Rams doubled their lead in the final moments of the first half to strengthen their grip on the contest. Midfielder Ebou Adams delivered a fine cross into the penalty area from the right, after good work by Barkhuizen, and Gayle got himself inbetween the Vale defence to plant a firm header low into the bottom corner for his first goal in a black and white shirt.

Vale captain Ben Garrity glanced a header wide from a corner in the early stages of the second half as the visitors looked for a way back into the match, but their hopes were dashed of a comeback when Derby netted their third just before the hour.

Ward once again did well down the right, showing great persistence, and delivered a deep cross to the far post towards the unmarked Sibley. The Academy graduate took a touch to compose himself before he drilled a powerful effort through a defender’s leg and into the back of the net in front of the South Stand.

Martyn Waghorn replaced Gayle with just over 20 minutes remaining as Warne shuffled his frontline, while January addition Corey Blackett-Taylor followed soon afterwards in place of Mendez-Laing. Within a few minutes, Blackett-Taylor nearly had his first Rams goal but blazed over from inside the box.

Captain Hourihane and Smith were introduced into the action ahead of the final ten minutes, with Adams and Barkhuizen heading off, and the latter stages petered out with little in terms of chances as Derby saw out the game to record a welcome win and a clean sheet.

The Teams

Derby County: Wildsmith (GK), Bradley, Cashin, Barkhuizen (Smith 80), Bird, Mendez-Laing (Blackett-Taylor 75), Sibley, Ward, Gayle (Waghorn 68), Adams (Hourihane 80), Nelson.

Substitutes Not Used: Loach (GK), Wilson, Thompson.

Port Vale: Ripley (GK), Lopata, Garrity (C), Chislett (Depepa 46), Ojo, Iacovitti (Smith 80), Massey, Weir, Plant (Mighten 90), Shorrock (Clark 62), Debrah.

Substitutes Not Used: Leutwiler (GK), Lowe, Walters.


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What’s Next?

Derby will have a full week on the training ground at Moor Farm to prepare for next Saturday’s visit to Bristol Rovers (3pm kick-off).