GRAHAM Dorrans’ first-half cracker set Albion on their way to a deserved victory at Pride Park – in front of Scotland boss Gordon Strachan.
Dorrans was recently named in a 29-man squad for next month’s friendly against England and his 39th-minute strike will have done his Wembley chances no harm.
The right-midfielder beat Lee Grant all ends up from 25-yards – the highlight of an encouraging display by the Baggies – to bag his second goal in as many friendlies.
And Markus Rosenberg also notched for the second time in pre-season, slotting home from close range in the 90th minute after fine work by fellow sub Billy Jones.
New boy Nicolas Anelka was again at the heart of the Baggies’ most promising moments while, at the other end, Ben Foster’s brilliant late save to deny sub Michael Jacobs earned Albion a second successive shut-out.
Anelka and Shane Long started up front as Albion returned to action on English soil following their pre-season training camp in Austria.
With Derby kicking off their campaign in just eight days’ time – almost a fortnight before the Baggies’ Barclays Premier League season gets underway – Clarke’s men were expecting a thorough workout.
Both teams deployed 4-4-2 formations as the team which finished tenth in the Championship last term entertained the club positioned eighth in the top flight.
It was the boys from the Black Country who threatened first. After patient build-up play, Liam Ridgewell fed Anelka inside the box and the Frenchman saw his acute drive well blocked by Grant at his near post.
Foster had a much easier save to make 60 seconds later when he comfortably held Jamie Ward’s ambitious 20-yard shot. Chris Martin also failed to trouble Foster’s goal with a header from Ward’s ninth-minute corner.
The cloud cover over Pride Park saw temperatures drop to a more comfortable level – but the Rams defence was soon made to sweat by some Anelka magic.
The former Arsenal ace combined brilliantly with Dorrans before seeing his 15-yard drive deflected wide by Jake Buxton. Anelka then played in Long with an aerial ball which the Albion No.9 controlled well before being foiled at point-blank range by Grant.
Derby’s display was full of energy and they allied it with quality in the 20th minute when the lively Will Hughes forced the save of the game thus far out of Foster with a 20-yard exocet.
But Albion were playing some nice stuff and, on 29, James Morrison threaded the ball to Chris Brunt on the edge of the box whose first-time effort was well held by Grant low to his left.
The game then descended into typically uneventful pre-season fare – until Dorrans broke the deadlock with a 39th-minute bolt out of the blue. The Scotland international let fly from 25 yards and his right-foot rocket flew into the helpless Grant’s top right-hand corner.
Dorrans’ wonder strike gave Clarke’s side a lead they thoroughly deserved at the break.
There was a strange pre-season occurrence during the interval – neither team made a change!
Kicking towards their healthy away following, the Baggies began the second half on the front foot. Several promising moves were repelled by the Rams rearguard before Anelka planted an 18-yard drive into Grant’s midriff.
Derby threatened briefly on 53 when Martin shouldered wide Craig Forsyth’s hanging cross.
Nigel Clough’s side enjoyed a far more dangerous moment three minutes later when Jeff Hendrick’s deflected cross fell to Johnny Russell 15 yards out, only for the Rams striker’s acrobatic effort to fly over.
But Albion were soon back on the attack and Long came within inches of poking home Ridgewell’s low cross, which was hacked over his own bar by Buxton. From Dorrans’ ensuing corner, Jonas Olsson rose highest to head goalwards but was denied by Grant.
Clarke made his first changes on 66, replacing Steven Reid and Youssouf Mulumbu – who pushed Anelka all the way for the man-of-the-match vote – Billy Jones and Claudio Yacob.
Albion remained in control until Derby rallied late on.
Martin just failed to connect with sub Ben Davies’ low cross before Connor Sammon, a replacement for Russell, shot just wide from 20 yards.
Davies fired straight at Foster from a similar distance before the action swung to the other end. Morrison strode onto Rosenberg’s neat lay-off but could only fire at Grant from 15 yards.
Sammon’s forceful run on 87 set up a great chance for fellow sub Jacobs, who saw his 12-yard effort brilliantly pushed over by Foster.
That was the closest Derby came to nicking a leveller and Rosenberg made the victory secure in the final minute.
The Swede poked home from close range after a fine run by Jones, who beat Forsyth to squeeze in a low cross.
DERBY (4-4-2): Grant; Freeman (Davies 73), Keogh (c), Buxton, Forsyth; Hendrick, Hughes (Jacobs 84), Bryson, Ward; Martin, Russell (Sammon 78). Subs not used: Legzdins (gk), Eustace, Gjokaj, Ball, Hoganson.
ALBION (4-4-2): Foster; Reid (Jones 66), Dawson, Olsson, Ridgewell; Dorrans (Rosenberg 78), Mulumbu (Yacob 66), Morrison, Brunt; Long, Anelka (Berahino 84). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Popov, Tamas, McAuley, Roofe.
GOALS: ALBION – Dorrans (29), Rosenberg (90).
REFEREE: C Sarginson (Staffordshire).
ALBION STARMAN: Nicolas Anelka.