JAMIE Ward and Mason Bennett scored to give Derby County a 2-1 victory over Nuneaton Town in their third friendly of pre-season last night.
Both goals came in the second half of the game against Conference Premier opponents at the Sperrin Brewery Stadium, as the Rams players continued to build match fitness ahead of the new season.
Six players - Craig Forsyth, Kieron Freeman, Jake Buxton, Chris Martin, Johnny Russell and Ward (pictured) - had an hour on the pitch, while there was a first run-out in pre-season for Will Hughes, Jeff Hendrick, John Eustace and skipper Richard Keogh.
Derby fielded a strong starting XI first half.
Eustace filled the holding role in a midfield trio with Hughes and Hendrick while Russell, Martin and Ward formed the front three.
Kelle Roos, continuing in goal in the absence of Lee Grant, was back at his former club having joined the Rams from Nuneaton in January.
The home side included ex-Burton Albion midfielder Jack Dyer in their line-up after he left the Pirelli Stadium this summer.
Hendrick curled a shot into the hands of Reece Charles-Cooke and Eustace was inches away from making contact with a Ward corner as Derby pressed early on.
Hughes received a yellow card for pulling the shirt of Nuneaton's trialist striker. The colour of card matched the shirts of Derby's new third kit, which they wore for the first time.
A mazy run into the box by Hendrick almost opened Boro up, but the home side's backline, including ex-Rams' trainee Theo Streete, stood firm in the opening half an hour.
Streete did well to head clear after neat work by Eustace and Derby's corner count mounted although the quality of deliver was not of a standard to really trouble Nuneaton.
Talking of untroubled, Rams keeper Roos was not asked to make a save first half as Nuneaton struggled to build an attack.
When they finally did, Jorrin John centred and Kieron Freeman's tame attempted clearance went straight to the trialist striker, who fired over.
The attack seemed to boosted Nuneaton's belief, and they won a corner. Derby failed to clear again, Gavin Cowan chipped the ball back towards goal and Andy Brown sent a free header wide when he should have hit the target, at least.
It was a fourth consecutive goalless half of pre-season for Derby, who made four changes at the break.
Zak Whitbread replaced Keogh and Jamie Hanson, Alban Bunjaku and Simon Dawkins came on for Eustace, Hughes and Hendrick.
Martin almost found the breakthrough when his shot clipped the top of the bar before Derby took the lead after 51 minutes.
Ward's low cross curled in right-footed from the left missed everybody and the ball found the far corner of the net.
Former Rams keeper Saul Deeney came on for Nuneaton before Derby made six changes after an hour. The changes included trialists Eros Medaglia and Ivan Calero. Both are 19, Medaglia an Argentinian right back and Calero a Spanish midfielder.
Dawkins' low shot was saved by Deeney and at the other end, Roos made his first save of note after 70 minutes when he kept a shot out with his legs and an even better one a few minutes later.
But Derby doubled their lead after 76 minutes when Bennett climbed to meet Lee Naylor's centre and sent a header looping back over Deeney.
Adi Yussef somehow managed to fire over with the goal at his mercy as Nuneaton looked to respond. They did pull a goal back a minute from time through one of their many trialists.
BORO: Charles-Cooke (Deeney, 56); John, Franklin, Cowan, Dean, Streete, Armson, Trialist (Walker, 55), Brown (Yussef, 55), Trialist (trialist, 55), Dyer.
RAMS: Roos; Freeman (Medaglia, 60), Forsyth (Naylor, 60), Eustace (Hanson, 46), Buxton (O'Brien, 60), Keogh (Whitbread, 46), Hughes (Bunjaku, 46), Hendrick (Dawkins, 46), Martin (Sammon, 60), Ward (Calero, 60), Russell (Bennett, 60); other subs: Etheridge, Thomas.
REFEREE: J Brooks.
ATTENDANCE: 760 (211 away fans).