Derby secured their second win of their pre-season schedule with comfortably the most impressive performance so far as they beat Premier League side Southampton at Pride Park.
The Saints may be a week or so behind Derby in their preparation but that shouldn’t take anything away from the Rams’ display, as a side littered with Premier League regulars were no match for Frank Lampard’s men.
The display will have enthused the Derby fans who witnessed the 3-1 defeat at Mansfield on Wednesday, with this being a far more confident performance and one which will have impressed the faithful witnessing Lampard and his men in action for the first time.
And with just two more games remaining before the big kick-off at Reading on August 3, things look to be falling into place well for the new manager and his charges.
The Rams gave starting places to Mason Mount and Harry Wilson, signed last week on loan from Chelsea and Liverpool respectively and both expected to add some youthful but exciting quality to Lampard’s squad.
A quick break from back to front nearly saw Derby take the lead five minutes in, Mount at the heart of it and Craig Bryson just unable to get to the ball before keeper Alex McCarthy when it was threaded through to him inside the penalty area.
With left-footer Wilson starting out on the right and the right-footed Tom Lawrence on the left, as he did at Mansfield, Lampard seems keen to see his wide men cut inside and do the damage, though it remains to be seen whether that will be maintained.
Bryson shot wildly wide on 13 minutes from 25 yards, then Wilson did what Lampard clearly desires by cutting inside and firing just over the top from a similar distance.
Then it was Lawrence’s turn, receiving the ball after a loose pass in Southampton’s midfield and breaking forward before shooting low at McCarthy.
Southampton hadn’t offered much until Nathan Redmond fired high and wide on 18 minutes after a poor clearance by Scott Carson, Wilson then warming McCarthy’s palms again with a shot from a tight angle.
Lawrence wasn’t too far away with a 25-yard free-kick soon afterwards, while at the other end Mohamed Elyounoussi sliced an effort wide after good work from James Ward-Prowse.
The best chance so far came on 33 minutes when Wilson put Lawrence in on goal and his shot was parried well by McCarthy, Mount blazing the rebound well over the top from outside the area.
Derby nearly nicked the lead right on half-time, good work by Max Lowe seeing him win the ball and then send David Nugent in towards goal but his attempted lob was put into the empty stand behind the goal.
Lowe had put in some impressive minutes up against Ward-Prowse and although clearly very raw and lacking too much physical presence, looked good on the ball and shows potential to develop into a first team regular.
The second-half saw Armstrong fire low at Carson early on from distance, before Richard Keogh was inches away from a corner after it had also just evaded Curtis Davies.
The opening goal finally arrived on 58 minutes and it was Lawrence who this time found the net. He was released by a through ball from Joe Ledley which evaded the stretch of a defender and left one-on-one with McCarthy, sliding the ball into the corner of the net.
Ryan Bertrand then forced Carson to tip a shot over the bar on 67 minutes, but it would be the Rams who would score again four minutes later.
Lawrence received the ball 40 yards out and beat two men before placing a fine low shot wide of McCarthy and into the corner of the net.
It was then 3-0 nine minutes later, as Florian Josefzoon’s shot was parried by McCarthy but Mason Bennett followed up to score and keep up his record of scoring in all of the Rams’ pre-season games so far, to top off an impressive display all round from the hosts.
Derby: Carson (Roos 72), Wisdom (Bogle 72), Lowe (Bird 68), Keogh (Hanson 76), Davies (Pearce 72), Ledley (Huddlestone 63), Wilson (Josefzoon 63), Bryson (Johnson 72), Nugent (Bennett 72), Mount (Butterfield 76), Lawrence (Thomas 72). Sub not used: Thorne.
Southampton: McCarthy, Stephens (Clasie 81), Hoedt, Austin (Gabbiadini 63), Elyounoussi (Davis 46), Ward-Prowse (Reed 63), Armstrong (Romeu 63), Lemina (Gallagher 81), Bertrand (McQueen 81), Redmond (Hojbjerg 63), Targett (Vestergaard 46). Subs not used: Gunn, Sims.
Ref: Jeremy Simpson.