A brace from midfielder Jacob Twyford in the first half left the Rams with a mountain to climb going into the half time interval. However, a goal seconds after the interval from Jahvan Davidson-Miller and a penalty conversion from Cameron Cresswell saw Justin Walker and Rory Delap’s side extend their unbeaten run to three games.
Looking back on the contest, it was Stoke that began the brighter of the two sides as they displayed a counter-attacking style of play.
It took less than two minutes for the hosts first shot on goal and it came in the form of a strike inside the box after Tyrese Campbell pounced on a misjudged ball down the centre of the field.
Just minutes later and Stoke were knocking at the door again, this time through targetman, Jordan Greenidge, through another threatening counter-attack – his effort, though, forced nothing more than a routine save for Matt Yates.
As the game progressed on, the Potters continued in the same vein – causing Derby a host of problems at the back – particularly on 20 minutes after Campbell had yet another off target attempt on goal after creating space inside the area.
The goal did come shortly after as a neat ball was played to Twyford, lurking eagerly on the edge of the box, and after a comfortable touch, he struck the ball sweet into the top corner of the goal.
On 36 minutes the hosts doubled their advantage, once again through Twyford, only this time it was from a set-piece situation around 25 yards out.
With half-time approaching, Derby did attempt to peg a goal back before the break. An excellent individual run from Ayomide Jibodu saw him beat three players and shoot on goal, however, Mate Deczki was equal to it, making a comfortable save towards his near post.
As play resumed following the half-time break, Walker and Delap’s side experienced a quick start to life after Jibodu caught Stoke off-guard to deliver an inch perfect pass with Davidson-Miller, who coolly directed the ball into the back of the net. It was a goal that marked as his fourth in as many games.
From then on the game began to open up and a sense of determination amongst the Derby squad became apparent.
With 66 minutes on the clock, Greenidge marked an attacking spell for his side after his pace and strength forced Derby’s backline into an error and he ran through on goal to test his efforts once again.
The forward’s off-target effort seemed to spur on his teammates and a hatful of dangerous chances put the Rams under considerable pressure. Strong, assertive defending though ensured that Derby remained well and truly in the game.
Despite a dominant period for the Potters, it wasn’t long before Derby were back on the ball and in the 73rd minute, they began to create opening.
Max Bird picked out a perfectly timed run by Cresswell. The ball was played impressively over the top but the wideman was only able to head the ball wide.
Minutes later and Cresswell was in once again, this time after he broke down the left side to cut the ball back to Adam Davie, who was waiting in the area. The latter took the shot almost immediately and was certain to score had it not have been for a handball inside the area.
The referee pointed straight to the spot and it was Cresswell who confidently stepped up – scoring his eighth goal for the Under 18s this season.
After neutralising their deficit, it was very much game on for the Rams as they scrambled for what could prove to be a crucial winner.
However, after imposing maximum pressure on the hosts it wasn’t to be as the referee called time on the most exciting of encounters.
Stoke City U18s: Deczki, Diallo, McJannet, Cherdieu, Read, Silva (C), Dunwoody, Twyford, Greenidge, Campbell, Sorensen
Substitutes: Russo, Allen, Wara, Da Silva, Karamoko
Derby County U18s: Yates, Goode, Mills, Haywood, Bateman (C), Thomas, Jibodu, Bird, Davidson-Miller, Mitchell-Lawson, Cresswell
Substitutes: Edwards, Fryatt, Thorne, Davie, Wise