CARLISLE UNITED 0
DERBY COUNTY 2
TWO wins in three days have given Derby County just the start they wanted to the new season following the shattering defeat in the play-off final at Wembley in May.
They followed up their win against Rotherham United in Saturday's Championship opener by beating League Two opponents Carlisle United 2-0 last night to progress in the Capital One Cup.
Jeff Hendrick, the match-winner at the weekend, put the Rams ahead in the first-round tie at Brunton Park with a 62nd-minute header.
The Republic of Ireland international is tipped to score double figures from midfield this season and he has made a cracking start.
Last season's top scorer Chris Martin added a second goal late on.
Last night's game came a little over 48 hours after league matches for both teams, a big ask for players so early in the season.
Head coach Steve McClaren was keen to avoid making too many changes – "we want to win the game", he said after Rams' victory against Rotherham.
He made two. Zak Whitbread came in at centre back for Jake Buxton, while Jamie Ward replaced Johnny Russell in a wide attacking role.
Carlisle made four changes following their home defeat by Luton Town at the weekend. Their side included ex-Rams midfielder Paul Thirlwell.
Rain before kick off added zip to the pitch, ideal for passing, and Derby controlled much of the first half.
Craig Forsyth's willingness to raid from left-back fashioned their first chance. He drove into the box, played a one-two with Ward and saw his low effort blocked by Carlisle goalkeeper Mark Gillespie.
Carlisle did not lack confidence, and evidence of this was seen when Kyle Dempsey ran at Derby's defence before his shot was deflected over.
But Forsyth found plenty of space and joy on the left, and another of his surges ended with Gillespie pushing out a teasing low centre.
Carlisle were down to 10 men at this stage as Sean O'Hanlon was off the field due to a head injury. Derby looked to press home their advantage but were unable to do so despite the centre half being absent for eight minutes.
Head bandaged, he finally returned to cheers from the Carlisle fans and more cheers followed when Jeff Hendrick blazed a good chance over from just inside the area after more good work by Forsyth.
Back came the Rams, and Ward's header from Cyrus Christie's centre was parried by Gillespie. Ward reacted quickly but put his second effort inches past the far post.
Full-backs Forsyth and Christie supplemented attacks at every opportunity, a key feature of Derby's play, while Will Hughes was again comfortable and effective in the "controlling" role in midfield, as he was for a round an hour against Rotherham.
Gillespie made another save, this time to deny Chris Martin from Ward's cross. Derby had a firm grip on the game and should have been at least one up.
They used the full width of the pitch. This stretched Carlisle although it was a long ball from the back that caught the home side out a minute before the break. Martin controlled it and his rising shot beat the advancing Gillespie and clipped the top of the bar.
The pattern of the first period continued in the second half.
A neat Derby move ended with Forysth chipping a centre to Ward whose header went straight at Gillespie, who then held Craig Bryson's shot from distance.
Gillespie beat out a drive from Simon Dawkins and then back-pedalled to tip over as Forsyth's centre threatened to dip under the bar.
Carlisle almost stunned the Rams when David Symington's free kick from 25 yards was touched onto the bar by Lee Grant. It was an excellent save, and a valuable one as Derby took the lead a minute later.
Ward's corner was helped on by Whitbread to Hendrick at the back post and he buried his header. The heroic Gillespie was finally beaten.
There was still belief among the home support and they were one their feet when substitute Stephen Elliott's volley flashed narrowly wide before Rams substitute Leon Best saw his shot kept out by that man Gillespie.
Martin completed Derby's victory when he swept home a Johnny Russell cross in the third minute of added time, the striker's first goal of the season.
CARLISLE UNITED: Gillespie; Thirlwell (Marrow, 75), Meppen-Walter, O'Hanlon, Symington, Robson, Sweeney, Kearns (Brough, 81), Potts, Dempsey, Paynter (Elliott, 70). Other subs: Hanford (gk), Grainger, Dicker, Gillies.
DERBY COUNTY: Grant; Christie, Keogh, Whitbread, Forsyth; Hendrick, Hughes, Bryson; Ward (Best, 70), Martin, Dawkins (Russell, 70). Other subs: Roos (gk), Freeman, Sammon, Eustace, Mascarell.
REFEREE: D Bond (Lancashire).
ATTENDANCE: 3,481 (497 Rams fans).