Paul Clement was pleased with his players' performance levels against Utrech, according to Rams Player HD, just one week after declaring his disappointment following the win against Northampton.
In the first half, the Rams started slowly as the new system put in place by Clement seemed to disjoint certain individuals. Darren Bent was one of the main concerns for Derby fans as he seemed to isolate himself out wide.
Utrecht was able to punish Derby for their slow start and former loan star Nacar Barazite was on hand to put the hosts 1-0 up. Nevertheless, soon after the Dutch side’s goal, Derby took control of the game and the players grew into the system. The Rams didn’t have to wait long for their equaliser as Ryan Shotton’s powerful header from a Tom Ince corner put the two sides level going into half-time.
Derby were noticeably better in the second half and their possession football put them comfortably on the front foot. Ince was the provider again as Johnny Russell put the Rams ahead and Will Hughes made it 3-1 with one of the best goals of his career.
A late Shotton foul gave Utrecht a penalty, which Barazite grabbed a second goal with, but the game finished with the Championship side claiming a deserved win.
Scott Carson – 6; Cyrus Christie – 6, Richard Keogh – 7, Ryan Shotton – 6, Craig Forsyth – 7; George Thorne – 7, Will Hughes – 7, Jeff Hendrick – 6, Tom Ince – 7; Darren Bent – 5, Johnny Russell – 7.
Subs: Isak Ssewankambo – 6, Stephen Warnock - 5, Alex Pearce – 6, Chris Baird – 6, Craig Bryson – 6, Jamie Hanson – 6, Andreas Weimann – 6, Chris Martin – 7.
The performance by Derby was their best of pre-season so far, despite conceding the two goals.
Utrecht had been in great form going into the game, with 12 goals scored and zero conceded in their last three games, so to control the majority of the play would have been very pleasing for the head coach.
Bent is showing signs that he’s still working on integrating into the new head coach’s plans. However, the form of Russell will be very pleasing for everyone associated with the club. Three goals in four games, without playing a full 90 minutes, show that he could be the surprise of the coming season.