The 2023/24 season will live long in the memory of all of those associated with Derby County Football Club.

It was the campaign that saw the Rams taste promotion for the first time in over 15 years and the first time they have done so automatically in almost 30 years!

However or whenever it was to be ultimately achieved, a return to the second tier was always going to be special, and that it certainly was.

There would be bumps along the way, as is football, but Paul Warne, his staff and the playing squad would never allow themselves to get too high or too low after results; an attitude that would pay dividends come 27th April 2024 when automatic promotion was sealed with a 2-0 home win over Carlisle United.

Over the coming days, will look back at how the season unfolded. From the feeling of ecstasy following some of those real key wins to that of agony after defeats, we’ll reflect on it all.

Here, we go back to the very start with a look at August and September.

August Review

If anyone needed a reminder that the 2023/24 season wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, then the opening month of the campaign certainly provided it.

Three new signings donned the black and white on the opening day of the campaign against Wigan Athletic at Pride Park Stadium; Sonny Bradley, Joe Ward and Curtis Nelson whilst three more made their debuts from the bench in Kane Wilson, Conor Washington and Callum Elder. The fresh blood, however, wasn’t enough to enable the Rams to claim three points against the Latics.

Despite dominating for the majority of the 90 minutes and boasting well over double the number of shots of their visitors, Derby succumbed to their first defeat of the season at Pride Park with a double from Charlie Wyke cancelling out Craig Forsyth’s strike to equalise in the second period.

It didn’t get any easier either as just three days later saw the Rams exit the Carabao Cup at the First Round stage following a 2-0 defeat to Blackpool on home turf. There was another new debutant on the evening with Josh Vickers making his first appearance between the sticks for the Rams, but a first half Jake Beesley double denied him a clean sheet and saw the side bow out of the competition at the first hurdle.

After a tough opening two games, Warne’s side did finish the month strongly by picking up nine points from a possible 12 in league action.

That started with their first victory of the campaign, running out 3-0 victors away at near neighbours Burton Albion. An early James Collins header settled any nerves from the previous two games before late strikes from captain Conor Hourihane and a first in Rams colours for Conor Washington cemented a comfortable win.

A third defeat in a row at Pride Park followed a few days later, going down 2-1 against Oxford United, as a late strike from the returning Martyn Waghorn wasn’t enough to stop the vistors taking all three points before two victories in a row boosted morale to see out the month.

A second goal in as many games from Waghorn saw the Rams finally get a win on the board at Pride Park in a 1-0 win against Fleetwood Town before August ended in emphatic fashion with a 4-2 success away at Peterborough United. Four goals in the first half from Warne’s men, including three from Waghorn and a header from Eiran Cashin, put the game beyond the reach of the Posh and allowed the side to head into September with a new sense of belief.

August Results

Sky Bet League One – Derby County 1-2 Wigan Athletic (57’ Forsyth)

Carabao Cup Cup Round One – Derby County 0-2 Blackpool

Sky Bet League One – Burton Albion 0-3 Derby County (6’ Collins, 78’ Hourihane, 84’ Washington)

Sky Bet League One – Derby County 1-2 Oxford United (87’ Waghorn)

Sky Bet League One – Derby County 1-0 Fleetwood Town (23’ Waghorn)

Sky Bet League One – Peterborough United 2-4 Derby County (29’ Waghorn, 39’ Waghorn, 45’ Waghorn, 37’ Cashin)

September Review

That new sense of belief heading into September soon turned to frustration with the trip to Bolton Wanderers. The Rams went in front on the day thanks to a Conor Hourihane penalty before the hosts levelled things up with a penalty of their own through Dion Charles. But the game took a real turn within minutes of the second half getting under way as goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith was dismissed for allegedly handling outside of his area; a decision that was later overturned.

The Rams battled bravely with ten men for the remainder of the game but were undone in the 65th minute when Josh Dacres-Cogley’s cross deflected off Tyrese Fornah looped over the head of substitute goalkeeper Vickers to condemn the Rams to defeat.

Despite the disappointment of the loss, Derby used that as motivation and were able to see out the remainder of the month unbeaten after the international break.

Back-to-back games at Pride Park saw the Rams draw 1-1 with Portsmouth in Sky Bet League One, with James Collins scoring from the penalty spot before Colby Bishop levelled in the dying seconds, before dispatching League One rivals Lincoln City 2-0 in the first match of their Bristol Street Motors Trophy group stage campaign with the returning Tom Barkhuizen and Louie Sibley scoring.

A double from Collins cemented a 2-0 victory in league action on the road at Carlisle United just a few days later before the month rounded off with a third clean sheet in a row after a 0-0 draw against Cambridge United on home soil.

September Results

Sky Bet League One - Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Derby County (34’ Hourihane)

Sky Bet League One – Derby County 1-1 Portsmouth (86’ Collins)

Bristol Street Motors Trophy Group Stage – Derby County 2-0 Lincoln City (51’ Barkhuizen, 77’ Sibley)

Sky Bet League One – Carlisle United 0-2 Derby County (18’ Collins, 84’ Collins)

Sky Bet League One – Derby County 0-0 Cambridge United