Ecstatic fans hailed a new hero in rookie Jason Knight as Derby County signed off for 2019 in style.
Knight, a product of the club’s’ academy, scored the first goals of his professional career as Derby beat Charlton Athletic 2-1 to end a poor run of form in the Sky Bet Championship.
What’s more, they did it despite playing for more than three-quarters of the contest with only ten men after the 17th minute sending-off of defensive midfielder Krystian Bielik.
The 18-year-old Knight was named man-of-the-match for a performance that had pundits purring on Sky Sports, who televised the game live.
“It was a special night for myself, but it was also a very important win and a very good performance,” he told Rams TV.
“It’s another milestone in my career so far. I need to push on, keep working hard and keep doing what I’m doing.
“Everyone in the team and the staff knew that this was a massive game for us.
“Charlton are around our position in the table, and we needed to win. Luckily, we did that.”
Knight bravely headed Derby in front from close range after only ten minutes.
He said: “I saw the ball drop and I just thought I would throw myself at it and see what happens. I got a boot in the face, but that happens sometimes.”
Seven minutes later came Bielik’s deserved red card for a high, lunging challenge against the team he helped win promotion while out on loan last season.
However, the Rams refused to buckle and continued to look the brighter side. They were rewarded in the 77th minute when Knight drilled home his second goal from a pass by another academy product, Max Bird, who was making his first Championship start at Pride Park.
“I gave Max a lot of praise to pick me out in that situation,” said the teenager. “There were a lot of bodies running at him.
“It was a nice little finish from myself, and it was good to get a second goal to secure the win.”
Struggling Charlton did halve the deficit seven minutes from time when Lyle Taylor converted a penalty, but Derby held on in their final match of the decade.