McClaren: 'Keep your eye on Jeff Hendrick. He has got everything'
Irishman on target as Derby get off to winning ways in the Championship
Derby head coach Steve McClaren is backing Jeff Hendrick to become the team's latest midfield goal ace after his late winner sent Championship new boys Rotherham crashing to a 1-0 defeat at the iPro Stadium.
Hendrick finished superbly to win a game that looked to be heading for a draw when he swept a right foot shot from the angle of the box into the top right corner of the Rotherham net in the 82nd minute.
It was tough on the visitors who grew into the game after Derby had threatened to blow them away in the opening 20 minutes and saw a goal-bound header from Karl Arnason cleared off the line by Will Hughes.
Matt Derbyshire headed wide from eight yards before Hendrick pounced but Rotherham twice came close to equalising in stoppage time with former Derby midfielder Paul Green forcing a superb save from Lee Grant and Kieran Argard having a shot cleared at full stretch by Craig Forsyth.
But Hendrick's quality was the difference and McClaren believes he can repeat last season's double figure goal tally by midfielder Craig Bryson.
"Absolutely," McClaren said. "Keep your eye on Jeff. He played really well in the last 10 games of last season and that was a great finish today.
"He's got a goal threat, he's box to box, strong and tough and he's got everything which he's proved again today. He kept his head and got the winner when it didn't look like it was going to come.
"Credit to our players, they have got through on character after the first 25 minutes when I thought we were excellent. We got a little frustrated and lost our patience a bit and I thought it was heading for a draw but we have that quality to win games which we did in the end."
Rotherham manager Steve Evans thought his team was worth a point on their return to the Championship.
"I think Derby supporters will go away and know their team was in a tough game today," he said.
"They will have a lot of easier games at the iPro, that's for sure. I think we deserved a point and I think the whole ground knows we deserved a point but sometimes you don't get what you deserve.
"Many people around the country thought when they saw we were away at Derby it would be lambs to the slaughter but we aren't going to be lambs to the slaughter for anyone.
"We were well organised and after they scored, we had two great chances to equalise we would normally take so we are disappointed we didn't take them but we're learning."
Meanwhile, Stuart Pearce hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons after a midweek spat with Nottingham Forest's owner over the sale of Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles to Newcastle, before both players were loaned back to the club.
However, there was no hangover from that episode at the City Ground as new signings Michail Antonio and Chris Burke gave Forest a 2-0 win against a beleaguered Blackpool outfit still recovering from a summer exodus.
Middlesbrough began their sixth straight season in the Championship in fine style as big-money summer signing Kike scored on his debut in a 2-0 defeat of Birmingham, with Daniel Ayala also netting.
Wigan are again fancied to make the play-offs but had to rely on a James McArthur strike three minutes into stoppage time to secure a point at home to Reading.
Callum McManaman was on target as the Latics got off to a bright start, but Shaun Cummings and Sean Morrison replied for the Royals in quick succession on 71 and 77 minutes before the thrilling 2-2 finish.
Troy Deeney showed why a number of Premier League clubs are keen to capture his signature when hitting the back of the net as Watford beat Bolton 3-0, with Matej Vydra and Fernando Forestieri also getting on the scoresheet for the Hornets at Vicarage Road.
Marc Pugh scored the division's first goal of the day when putting Bournemouth ahead at Huddersfield inside the opening minute and the Cherries went on to record an emphatic 4-0 victory as Callum Wilson added a brace and Yann Kermorgant also struck.
Brighton had Andrew Crofts sent off when going down 1-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday, with Giles Coke securing all three points for the Owls.
Igor Vetokele put Charlton ahead at Brentford but Tommy Smith equalised late on for the hosts in a 1-1 stalemate, while Mark Beevers and Shaun Williams netted in a 2-0 triumph for Millwall over Leeds, the second goal coming from the penalty spot.