England maintained their 100% record in qualification for Euro 2009 and moved to the top of Group Three despite a sluggish display against Montenegro.
Derbyshire's 20th-minute strike separated the teams
A Stephen Taylor header hit the post, before Matt Derbyshire coolly slotted in James Milner's superb pass.
England could find no cutting edge, and were denied a penalty when Aleksandar Radovic clearly handled on 50 minutes.
Defender Nedum Onuoha almost doubled England's advantage but his powerful header came crashing back off the bar.
Stuart Pearce's side were the superior team all evening and did create chances - particularly in the first half - but could not convert their dominance into goals.
As well as hitting the post, skipper Taylor got underneath another header early on, while Derbyshire directed a free header weakly at the keeper.
The pace of Theo Walcott and Gabriel Agbonlahor troubled Montenegro, but neither man could get their shots away as quickly as they could cover the grass.
After the break Milner had a long-range drive tipped over, while Montenegro's Marko Cetkovic managed a header on target but did not trouble Joe Hart with it.
Onuoha almost ended any England nerves when he rose to meet Huddlestone's corner and thumped a header goalwards but the ball cannoned back off the woodwork.
It was typical of England's evening but they did just enough to leapfrog group leaders Portugal, who lost to Bulgaria earlier in the day.
Patriotic England Under 21 manager Stuart Pearce:
"We've kicked-off the weekend of English sport with a victory. It's all on to Wembley - we're all going there to watch as a group.
"Then it's back to the hotel for dinner and we'll watch the rugby team. The whole nation will be watching and if we can sweep the board with victories there will be a lovely feel-good factor in the country."