Derby County 5-0 Tranmere Rovers
The FA Cup with Budweiser
Third Round Proper
3.00pm, Saturday 5 January 2013
Pride Park, Derby County FC
Winning clubs receive £67,500 from The FA's prize fund
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By Peter Glynn
Derby County convincingly side-stepped a potential upset against League One leaders Tranmere Rovers with a commanding five-goal display in The FA Cup Third Round.
An authoritative second-half performance reaped four goals for Nigel Clough’s Championship side and meant the afternoon concluded with a flattering look. Although in most part deserved, Ronnie Moore’s visitors will feel much of the damage was self-inflicted.
Tranmere’s catalogue of errors began at the end of an opening period in which they caused problems for the hosts. However, Rovers’ resistance was pierced when goalkeeper Owain Fon William’s was unable to hold Paul Coutts’s low-drive, allowing midfielder Ben Davies to slide in from close range.
Two moments of inept defending from second-half set-pieces then defined the tie. This time, the culprits were defenders Donervorn Daniels and Zoumana Bakayogo, both who failed to clear second-balls. Derby’s Conor Sammon and full-back John Brayford were the recipients of the good fortune.
For Tranmere, the afternoon was all the more harrowing as it was easily avoidable. There was, however, little complaint about the hosts’ other goals. Jeff Hendrick added to the growing score-line after 72 minutes, before Derby’s celebratory afternoon was decorated with a fine first career goal by 16-year-old academy graduate Mason Bennett.
The progression of youth is a principle both clubs share and the home side’s most precocious young talent, 17-year-old Will Hughes, once again registered a slick performance. The admirers continue to flock to Pride Park.
Clough’s counterpart is another who believes in the precocity of youth. Moore has assembled a competitive unit on modest means and the opening exchanges provided evidence for their perch at the head of League One.
Playing with pace and aggression symbolised by their lively front pairing of Cole Stockton and Michael O’Halloran, Tranmere more than matched their Championship counterparts for large periods of the first period.
Moore will look back on this period with regret. After fashioning the game’s opening chances, greater ruthlessness was required. Firstly, defender Ash Taylor flashed a header wide, before Max Power failed to trouble County goalkeeper Adam Legzdins after pick-pocketing midfielder Davies on the edge of the hosts’ area.
Derby’s more considered approach did however begin to show the first signs of reward. Clough’s midfield trio of Coutts, Hendrick and Hughes began to add a rhythm to their precise passing and became a growing influence in the game.
It was the heart of Derby’s midfield that proved the source for the home side’s opener. Coutts’s forward thrust concluded with a rasping low drive from the edge of the box. Rovers’ keeper Fon Williams will rue his inability to hold the strike, allowing Davies to slide home. It had taken the home side 42 minutes to break the resistance.
If Tranmere were aggrieved their first half-efforts hadn’t brought greater reward, they showed no signs of a sulk in the opening exchanges of the second period.
Again they played with a swiftness and competiveness, which made the home ranks uncomfortable. Unfortunately for them, it didn’t last.
Their renewed vigour was dealt a blow eight minutes into the second period. Daniels failed to deal with Davies' right wing free kick, allowing Sammon, whose presence led to the error, to finish from inside the box. It was due reward for the forward who worked tirelessly in his role as lone centre-forward.
More regret followed. This time full-back Bakayogo was the culprit in a dead-ball debacle, with the Ivorian swiping at a clearance leaving Derby right-back Brayford to hook home from close range.
With County flooding forward, it soon became a chastening visit for the League One table toppers. With Rovers resistance in tatters and the hosts’ collection of young tyro’s enjoying the widening space, further punishment followed. 20-year-old Hendrick began the contest for youngest scorer of the day when he added a fourth with 18 minutes left, only to be upstaged.
Bennett then stole the show with his first contribution of the tie. A minute after entering as a substitute, the England youth international drifted inside the box before finishing with aplomb.
To date, Derby’s season has been hindered by inconsistency. After this performance Clough will hope that this display of youthful exuberance will represent a new start.
Derby County: 13 Adam Legzdins, 2 John Brayford, 3 Gareth Roberts, 6 Richard Keogh, 7 Paul Coutts (14 Coyle Doyle 78), 8 Jeff Hendrick, 12 Michael Jacobs, 15 Mark O’Brien, 18 Ben Davies (20 Mason Bennett 84), 19 Will Hughes, 32 Conor Sammon
Substitutes: 1 Frank Fielding, 9 Nathan Tyson, 11 Theo Robinson, , 23 Kieron Freeman, 16 James O’Connor,
Tranmere Rovers: 1 Owain Fon Williams, 2 Danny Holmes, 4 Ash Taylor, 6 Liam Palmer, 10 Andy Robinson (3 Paul Black 72), 11 Adam McGurk, 14 Zoumana Bakayogo, 16 Cole Stockton, 17 Max Power, 20 Michael O’Halloran, 23 Donervorn Daniels
Substitutes: 5 Ian Goodison, 7 Joe Thompson, 12 Danny Harrison, 15 Jake Kirby, 19 Michael Kay, 33 Jason Moody
Referee: Mark Halsey
Derby County 5-0 Tranmere Rovers