Derby County moved up to seventh place in League One on Saturday with a first half blitz as they beat Bristol Rovers 4-2.
It was the Pirates’ first-ever trip to Pride Park for a league fixture.
Paul Warne’s side were ahead inside the opening five minutes when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing picked off a loose pass from right-back James Gibbons inside his own half. The former Cardiff City winger pushed forward before playing a perfectly-weighted pass in the direction of David McGoldrick, who produced a fine first-time finish into the bottom corner from 18 yards.
The visitors had been one of the in-form teams in the third tier; heading to the East Midlands unbeaten in their last six, which included a midweek draw at Sheffield Wednesday.
However, they quickly found themselves 2-0 down on Saturday afternoon when striker James Collins tapped in at the back post following an unmarked Haydon Roberts’ flick on from a Conor Hourihane corner. After a slow start to life at his new club, Collins is now the Rams’ top scorer with five league goals.
With 24 minutes on the clock it was 3-0 in front of 27,841 spectators. Hourihane’s free kick from out wide was initially cleared out of the penalty area, before Mendez-Laing headed the ball into the path of McGoldrick. The striker allowed the ball to bounce as he turned his marker, and then produced a fine half volley into the top far corner.
Bristol Rovers had a lifeline when the hosts failed to clear a set piece with two attempts, gifting centre-back Bobby Thomas a goal from two yards out.
Derby restored their three-goal lead five minutes later, capitalising on defensive mistakes again from Joey Barton’s side. This time, David McGoldrick won the ball from Bobby Thomas near the opponents’ corner flag, and somehow managed to curl the ball into the far corner from a very tight angle. The 35-year-old’s first professional hat-trick. Clinical.
The first half drama wasn’t over just yet. Derby have been conceding penalties for fun of late and this game was no different. The time, Eiran Cashin went in recklessly on Josh Coburn. The young Irish defender sweeped the legs away from the striker. Anthony Evans converted for 2-4.
Lewis Dobbin missed a sitter in the second half as the teenager on loan from Everton awaits his first league goal. The Rams were able to see the game out fairly comfortably.
Watch the highlights from Derby County 4-2 Bristol Rovers here:
Promoted to editor in 2016, James has met famous footballing faces from Robbie Savage to John Barnes. Very passionate football fan and writer and has a degree in journalism,