Ben Davies breaks deadlock and hails ‘clinical’ display by Derby County
BEN Davies hailed a “clinical” and “professional” performance from Derby County as they eased into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
The Rams entered the competition with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over League One leaders Tranmere Rovers at Pride Park Stadium – their biggest win of the season.
Davies broke the deadlock just before half-time and had a hand in the next three goals, scored by Conor Sammon, John Brayford and Jeff Hendrick.
The set piece specialist was eventually replaced late on by 16-year-old striker Mason Bennett, who completed the rout with his first senior goal.
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Derby had surrendered a three-goal lead at home on their way out of the League Cup to Scunthorpe United earlier in the season – but there was never likely to be a repeat against Tranmere.
“I thought it was a very professional and solid display,” said Davies.
“For the first 15 or 20 minutes, we looked a little bit sluggish but perhaps that is to be expected, with the amount of games we’ve had recently.
“But after that, I thought we did well and the two goals we scored either side of half-time were key.
“We kept the ball well, put three in central midfield once we went 3-0 up and we looked comfortable.
“We had a lot of possession and I thought we were clinical going forward – we looked like we were going to score.
“It was a perfect day for us.”
It was a double celebration for Davies, whose son Evan had his first birthday on Saturday.
Davies senior opened the scoring from close range after Paul Coutts’ shot had squirmed under Tranmere keeper Owain Fon Williams.
“It was nice to get on the scoresheet,” he said.
“The keeper parried it and it just stopped dead. Then it was Wacky Races to see who could get there first!
“There were two of their lads and me on the edge of the box.
“I thought: ‘If I get there first, I’ll score’, and I slid in and got a toe to it.”
Davies was pleased with his own contribution – after adapting to the different balls used in the FA Cup.
“The ball is a lot lighter in the FA Cup,” said the 31-year-old midfielder. “They’re made by Umbro, while Mitre make the league balls.
“We trained with them on Friday and they were bouncing all over the place.
“So I took a bag of balls after training and spent 20 minutes with them.
“I know our keepers were a bit uncertain about them but you have to get to grips with it. If you catch them right, they can fly – and in the second half, I managed to whip a few balls in that led to goals.”